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Francoli – Producer & Distributor of Grappa, Liqueurs, Distillates & Wines

Gruppo Francoli recently exhibited their products at The Italian Food & Wine Week here in Singapore! Front and center was Alberto Francoli showing off these amazing products that need a distributor in Asia, so if you are a distributor looking for any of these lines contact us!

Alberto Francoli

Gruppo Francoli is a dynamic entity renowned for its active involvement in the production and distribution of an impressive array of products, including grappa, liqueurs, distillates, wines, dried ham (prosciutto), and even electrical energy. This multifaceted company has firmly established itself as a cornerstone in its respective industries, reflecting a business model that is both diverse and sustainable.

The Francoli family has long championed environmental stewardship, a commitment that is deeply embedded in the company’s ethos. Distillerie Francoli, in particular, has distinguished itself as the first grappa distillery to achieve Zero Impact® on the environment, a testament to the family’s dedication to sustainability.

The company’s structure is both comprehensive and specialised, encompassing various segments under its umbrella:

  • Fratelli Francoli focuses on the distillation of Grappa and other spirits, alongside the creation, development, preparation, and bottling of these spirits. It also handles distribution both within Italy and on a global scale.
  • La Valdotaine is dedicated to the distillation and production of grappa, liqueurs, and other spirits, as well as the production and ageing of raw hams (prosciutto) infused with mountain herbs.
  • Casafrancoli serves as a retail outlet, offering direct access to Gruppo Francoli’s extensive range of products.
  • Thirsty Camel operates as a distribution company in New Zealand, further extending the group’s international reach.
  • Torraccia Del Platavigna is tasked with cultivating vineyards and producing wine, adding to the group’s diverse portfolio.
  • Francoli Energia focuses on the production of renewable electricity and thermal energy, highlighting the group’s commitment to sustainable practices.
  • Francoli USA ensures the company’s presence in the American market through its distribution activities.

With a turnover of 29 million euros and an output of 2 million bottles, Gruppo Francoli not only boasts substantial economic achievements but also supports a significant workforce of 90 employees, alongside 65 self-employed staff, contributing to both local and international economies. The company’s distribution of efforts between domestic (54%) and export (46%) markets showcases its global footprint and the widespread appeal of its products.

The production of 10 thousand dried hams and the generation of 7 million kWh further underline the scale and versatility of Gruppo Francoli’s operations, illustrating a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation.

This comprehensive overview leads us into a Q&A session with the company, aiming to delve deeper into Gruppo Francoli’s strategies for sustainability, its approach to global distribution, and its vision for the future amidst the ever-evolving landscape of its industries.

Could you share the remarkable journey of the Francoli family, who began their distillation legacy in 1875 and later founded their renowned distillery in Ghemme, Piedmont?

ONCE UPON A TIME…

View of the Francoli Distillery

This story begins in a tiny alpine village situated in a green valley, north of Lake Como, surrounded by the gorgeous peaks of the mountains that also create the natural border between Italy and Switzerland. A little village called Campodolcino.

Back in the years, village folk chopped down trees and hauled the timber down the mountain to sell at the town of Chiavenna. Towards the end of the logging seasons the folk of Campodolcino would carry grape pomace back to the village to produce grappa.

In the middle of the town there was a 3 floor house built back in 1833. Here lived a family of lumberjacks and carpenters that made this house the fulcrum of their life. In this family, people had a strong passion for generations: to make Grappa, and the quality of their home made spirit was well known by the people in that area.

1875 – THE FIRST GRAPPA

Dynasty of distillers, the Francoli family started distilling in 1875, when Luigi Guglielmo Francoli began his first experiments with a rudimentary still in Campodolcino (Val San Giacomo – SO) and gave birth to the first drops of his grappa.

1895 – THE FOUNDATION OF THE F.LLI FRANCOLI DISTILLERY

Gabriele, Guglielmo and Bartolomeo, sons of Luigi Guglielmo Francoli the F.lli Francoli Distillery. The production was only a few dozen litres, for family and friends, which the whole area soon learned to appreciate. However, numerous awards also came from beyond local borders.

1951 – LUIGI FRANCOLI FOUNDS THE CURRENT DISTILLERY IN PIEMONTE

The distilling passion leads the family to settle in Ghemme (NO), where Luigi Francoli founds the Luigi Francoli Distillery, where the best grappas in the area were bottled and sold. The increase in work suggested that Luigi call upon his 4 younger brothers who, one after the other, joined him. Thus was born the fourth generation of Francoli distillers.

What sets Luigi Francoli Grappas apart in terms of attention to detail, sensory involvement, and the pursuit of refinement and elegance?

A good Grappa is all about the quality of the ingredients. One of the most important factors for a quality grappa is to distill fresh well fermented pomace. Therefore, time is of the essence. Francoli distills only fresh pomace and, for this reason, our distillation cycle lasts no more than a few months – during and after wine harvesting season.

Another distinctive element of our method is the double ageing method.

This ageing method is a natural process that Distillerie Francoli has been using since the 1960s.

The first ageing period takes place in large vats (over 10,000 liters) of Salvonian oak, where the wood perspiration starts the oxidation of specific “pungent” notes the young grappa may present, transforming them into more delicate scents.

Francoli Oak Barrels Cellar

The second ageing period takes place in much smaller barrels (about 300 liters capacity) made of oak from the French forests of Limousin (this wood is rich of tannins, that it releases very slowly). In this particular phase, the optimal humidity conditions of the cellar acts two ways.

A fraction of the water contained in the grappa can evaporate (water calls water). This enables the natural concentration of the aromatic notes of the Grappa, and enhances those of vanilla and raisins, typical of Limousin oak .

Tell us about the picturesque Torraccia del Piantavigna in Upper Piedmont, where native vines like Nebbiolo and Vespolina flourish. How do these grapes contribute to the excellence of Ghemme and Gattinara DOCG wines?

Francoli Vineyard

A family, boutique-sized winery located in Ghemme in Alto Piemonte, Torraccia del Piantavigna has just 40 hectares in Gatinara DOCG and Ghemme DOCG. Makes about up to 250,000 bottles a year.

Pierino Piantavigna, whose last name consequently means “plant vines”. Plant vines he did, first in the 1970s. Since then, the winery has grown and developed, carving out an identity all its own based on minimal intervention, and a clean and elegant style that lets the grapes speak for themselves.

Along the way, their wines have received excellent scores from top reviewers (Tre Bicchieri for their Ghemme and Gattinara wines for twelve years running; as well as points in the high 90s from Robert Parker, James Suckling, Wine Enthusiast, and Decanter, who incidentally also gave them a platinum award.)

The winery has a range of wines that satisfies the enological desires of many, featuring only grapes native to Piedmont, from Erbavoglio (Erbaluce grapes), a fragrant, easy-drinking white to Neb, an everyday Nebbiolo, to its award-winning Ghemme and Gattinara DOCG wines.

Torraccia del Piantavigna has vineyards in both Ghemme and Gattinara, the two D.O.C.G. areas within the D.O.C. areas of Northern Piemonte.

Francoli Wines

GHEMME DOCG – The soil is of fluvial and alluvial origin, from the glacial river which ran down from Monte Rosa. It is quite heavy with clay content and relatively acidic. At the foothills of the Alps, cool air flows down from the mountains, providing large thermal differences between night and day, leading to the development of full aromas in the grape. Ghemme is a rich full-bodied wine with strong tannins that require significant ageing. A unique wine known throughout the ages for its richness, fullness of flavour and ability to mesmerise when at its best.

GATTINARA DOCG  – The Nebbiolo from Northern Piedmont coming from the small appellation of Gattinara in Alto Piemonte at foothills of the Alps. The grapes are 100% Nebbiolo, and the vineyards are planted on volcanic soil, which helps to enhance its elegance and longevity.

The wine is aged for at least 36 months in oak wood, both in large Slavonian barrels (80/150 Hl), and in medium-sized barrels (23/28 Hl), with woods coming from the Allier forest in France. It rests for at least 6 months in the bottle.  Gattinara is able to ages for a long time, but can also be tasted and appreciated early at its best, thanks to its balance and its silky tannins.

Francoli Wine

How does Gruppo Francoli continue to innovate with products like Elderflower Liqueur, Hazelnut Liqueur, Black Opal, and Aunt Mina’s Recipes, combining tradition and innovation to create unique and delightful spirits?

The art of distillation has always been at the center of our work. In addition to our core business, Grappa, we have developed through the year a strong expertise in the liquoristica, liquor making, a very strong tradition in Italy. Since the creation of our distillery in Ghemme, a hilled place with lots of biodiversity, close to the Alps and by a river, we have had access to a wide range of roots, flowers, plants to be put in infusion and blended.

In parallel, the Wine and Spirits business has always been a global affair and our distillery makes no exception. We have been exporting our products first in Europe and then worldwide for decencies and have always been exposed to new ideas and ways of proposing drinks, mixing, consuming spirits and liqueurs. We have developed strong friendships in the industry and this has for sure been shaping the way we see our work.

This global mindset allied with a strong expertise and knowledge of our local ingredients led us to experiment with the liqueurs of the Italian tradition like Limoncello, Sambuca or more local ones like Hazelnut or Elderflower. Sambuca is known worldwide for its crystal-clear look?

Alberto Francoli shows off Opal Nera Black Sambuca

We innovate creating Opal Nera, a stunning fusion of sambuca and spices, dark like the elderberry (sambucus). The aperitivo occasion is dominated by herbal, bitter liqueurs mixed with prosecco? We create surprise and delight with our Fiorente Elderflower liqueur, a floral and delicate liqueur perfect in a Fiorente Spritz that complement the Spritz offer in any menu. Our family-run business enables us to be reactive and agile when an opportunity arises.

Gruppo Francoli Address & Telephone

Address: Via Romagnano, 20, 28074 Ghemme NO, Italy
Telephone: +39 0163 844711

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