Cancel your flight to Piedmont—the Hudson Valley’s own Harvest Spirits is distilling grappa again this spring! And though it may not be as traditional as the grappa produced in northern Italy, owner/distiller Derek Grout has discovered his own formula for success.
The key for Grout is striking just the right balance of fruitiness and aromatics. To achieve this, he uses a blend of local Concord and Niagara grape varietals, which he distills multiple times for a smooth, fragrant finish. He also avoids excessive use of pomace (skins, stems and seeds), which, while central to Italian production methods, is less essential in this interpretation.
When asked if this version is not closer in style to an eau de vie or grape brandy, Grout shies away from the suggestion. In his experience, for those less familiar with the Italian distillation, the word grappa inspires intrigue. But for some reason, the word brandy evokes trepidation. Call it what you will, for this product Grout is not so concerned with rigid definitions. The most important aspect here is that the spirit of grappa is present and pronounced, both in flavor and aromatic integrity. Having experimented over the years with different batches and methods, this bottling looks to hit right on the mark.