The Alembic Valley – The Production of Grappa

Old copper alembic

Old copper alembic

Just as California takes pride in its Silicon Valley, Italy takes immense pride in an area of Trentino known nicknamed Alembics Valley. (Alembic = distilling flask) The real name is the “Cembra Valley” known for its production of: Muller-Turgau, Lagrein, Schiava, Chardonnay, Traminer, and Pinot Nero. It’s an excellent destination for both summer and winter vacations with a great network of B&Bs and Agriturismi (farm house accommodations).

The pride of the Cembra Valley inhabitants is not only the natural beauty of the Dolomites Mountain range that defines the valley, but for its production of Grappa. That’s why it’s nicknamed Alembics Valley.

I was lucky to meet Rodolfo Toniolli, one of the best grappa producers in the entire valley. Rodolfo, together with his wife Roberta in the dining room, and his daughter Irene in the kitchen run the Agriturismo “Le Cavade” one of the most popular lodging and dining establishments in the valley. Irene is a graduate of the Istituto Professionale Servizi Alberghieri Zappa of Bormio.

Rodolfo gave me a quick but thorough lesson about the area’s wines and grappas. He happens to be a fine winemaker as well project collaboration tools. But, in and around the valley he’s better known as a master “distillatore” or “grappa maker.” He offered me some samples of his craft. I had never had anything like his grappas.

They were soft in the mouth, not the harsh high-alcohol content drink that we often taste in restaurants or in private homes as after dinner drinks. His grappas were very aromatic like a garden full of flowers, not too heavy in alcohol, overall, a real pleasant drink.

The Trentino region contributes roughly 1,7% of Italy’s total wine production, from about 6,500 vine growers scattered on the slopes of the mountains. It contributes to the Italian grappa production with roughly 8% of the total national production from about 30 micro-distillers located around the scenic valleys of the region.

These distillers run small businesses whose members form the Institute for the Protection of Trentino Grappa established in 1969. A sort of DOC denomination, all members of this organization must follow strict regulations to make sure that the final product is of very high quality. Grappa producers who are members of this organization must guarantee that their production is made exclusively with the “Pomace” (grape skin after the wine process is over) derived from grapes harvested in the area.

I promised Rodolfo that I would return to Trentino to stay in his “La Cavade” inn. I am already anticipating the fun we’ll have between the wines, grappa and Irene’s delicious dishes. My mouth is already salivating.

For additional information on the region of Trentino travel attractions contact:
Agritur Trentino Tel. 011 39 0461 253 323 or write to
Trentino Tourist Information or write to:
Agriturismo Le Cavade. Tel 011 39 382028 9922.
Agriturismo Maso alle Rose Tel. 011 39 333 388 0865 or write to:
Gabriele’s Travels to Italy Tel. 1 507 287 8733 or write to:

Cembra Valley and its terraced vineyards

Cembra Valley Panorama

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