Above: Giannola Nonino (far left) addresses the crowd at the 2010 Nonino Prize presentation.
After becoming the first distillery to craft monovarietal grappas — distillates made from the pomace of a single grape variety — the Nonino family discovered that some of Friuli’s ancient, indigenous grape varieties were nearly extinct. They were alarmed to learn that the reason for this was that their cultivation had been outlawed and that grape growers who continued to grow them faced stiff fines if they vinified and sold the wine.
In November 1975, the family founded the Premio Nonino Risit d’Âur (The Nonino Golden Rootstock Prize): the prize was to be awarded annually to a grape grower who cultivated one or more of Friuli’s endangered grape varieties.
In 1978, the Italian government lifted its ban on the varieties in question and in 1978, the European Economic Community (Common Market) recognized and sanctioned both the prize and the grapes varieties.