top of page

Upgrading potential of Robinia wood from the south side of the Alps: barrels for grappa aging

Updated: Dec 9, 2023



WHFF Project: 2018.06

Authors: Mark Bertogliati (WSL / Federlegno.ch / EcoEng SA) Danilo Piccioli (Federlegno.ch) Marco Conedera (WSL) Sonia Petignat-Keller (Agroscope) Mauro Jermini (Agroscope)


Project partners: Sezione forestale Canton Ticino, Azienda agraria cantonale Mezzana, Interprofessione della Vite e del Vino Ticinese


The short video about the project on YouTube can be watched at the following link (only available in Italian): https://youtu.be/Msqpr6SD7IY



The most important facts in brief

  • The potential of Robinia wood for the niche production of quality wood with high added value for the production of barrels for grappa production has been studied

  • Robinia wood from Ticino is particularly suitable for the production of staves for grappa maturation

  • The management of Robinia wood at the silvicultural and silvicultural level contributes to the promotion of active silviculture, while helping to control the spread of the tree species.

  • Expert tests at local and national level have characterized grappa distilled from Merlot pomace and aged in Robinia wood as distinctly fruity, floral and spicy, due to the wood's volatile aromatic compounds.

  • The production of Robinia barrels responds to real market needs and is part of a perspective of incremental innovation.


Project description

The Robinia wood was introduced in Europe in the 17th century and has spread in Ticino and northern Italy since the end of the 18th century. It has been used in forestry to convert fallow land and heathland. More recently, its spread has been considered a threat to ecosystems, but is now back in focus due to its versatility and presence in the landscape.

The present project, carried out between 2018 and 2021, investigated the potential of Robinia wood wood for the niche production of high value-added quality wood and evaluated the technical potential of the wood for the production of barrels, as well as the chemical-technical and sensory characteristics of Ticino grappa aged in Robinia wood barrels. This is the first scientific study related to quality of this previously little known and used wood species at the Swiss level.



Conclusions

The study shows that Robinia wood from Ticino is particularly well suited for the production of barrel staves for grappa maturation. With careful selection, transport and processing, the potential of this resource can be exploited to create products with high added value. Although the lifespan of barrels is limited and it is a niche market, it can have a positive impact on other sectors (poles and construction timber) and contribute to the promotion of sustainable forest management.

In summary, the management of Robinia wood wood at the silvicultural and silvicultural level helps to promote active silviculture while helping to control the spread of the tree species. It is important to develop local techniques and skills to better exploit the silvicultural potential of Robinia wood wood without conflicting with other forest functions. The goal is not to further spread the tree species, but to manage forest stands more effectively and sustainably, which also benefits biodiversity. Combining wood products with the valorization of other typical local products, such as Ticino grappa, helps to improve the public appreciation and image of the entire forest-wood chain. It is important to pay attention also to the intangible value of the products, which can be developed through a "storytelling" approach. Grappa distilled from Merlot pomace and aged in Robinia wood wood has interesting potential in this regard.

Expert tests at the local and national level have characterized grappa distilled from Merlot pomace and aged in Robinia wood wood as distinctly fruity, floral and spicy, due to the wood's volatile aromatic compounds. The Ticino wine and distillate sector could benefit from further diversification, and the sale of Ticino grappa aged in wood has the potential to be successful on a national scale as well. The production of Robinia wood barrels and barriques could promote an integrated supply chain at the regional level, combining traditional local products and skills from wood to spirits.

The production of Robinia wood barrels responds to real market needs and is part of a perspective of incremental innovation, i.e. trying to improve an existing and well-known product (grappa made from Merlot pomace) by changing the way it is produced. The research phase, carried out by Federlegno.ch, WSL and Agroscope, has confirmed the potential and quality of the products to support future developments. These results are available to stakeholders in the forestry and wood sector, as well as in the wine and spirits sector.


Here you can download the full final report:

2018.06_Aufwertungspotenzial_Robinienholz
.pdf
Download PDF • 12.12MB

You can find more information about the project on ARAMIS.




Comments


bottom of page