In 1906, our Great-Grandfather Paul Mariani (“Dida”, pronounced “did-uh”, and Croatian for “Grandfather”) immigrated to California from Croatia and began farming. His passion and hard work became a multi-generational legacy, eventually leading to the creation of the Mariani Fruit Packing Company; an enterprise still owned and operated by my uncle, Mark Mariani and his family today. In 1996, after learning of a budding wine scene in Virginia, my parents sold our California winery and headed east to build Rappahannock Cellars. In 2015, we set out to create the next generation of products from our wines through the art of distilling: 100% grape-based spirits. For nearly two decades here at Rappahannock Cellars, we’ve continued to celebrate one of Dida’s most dearly held passions: wine. With the extension of Dida’s Distillery to make spirits from those wines, we remain dedicated to our family’s passion for agriculture and crafting outstanding grape products – something that we know would make Dida proud.
-Allan Delmare, Distiller
"I‘ve spent my life around wine: from my childhood at our California winery, to working alongside my dad to learn and better the family business at Rappahannock Cellars here in Virginia. So when I had a chance in 2015 to distill some wine at a neighboring distillery, I jumped at it - and I was hooked from there. For the next two years, I studied and traveled to distilleries, making brandy, vodka, gin, and even whiskey (just to get a sense for the "other side" of the grape). Through it all, my journey into the art and science of distilling has been like stepping into a whole new world of wine: it’s amazing to craft something which at its very core is the concentrated expression of the very wines which we have been working for over three decades to perfect."
“I first fell in love with the fermentation process back when I started making beer in high school. With a degree in Biology and a minor in Chemistry from Franciscan University, I spent two years as a lab tech in a cancer research lab. That was more than enough time for me to realize that I wanted to do something for the rest of my life that wasn’t ‘work’. So, I went back to school and in 2010 I received a Certificate of Viticulture and Enology from Brock University. My family and I have been fortunate enough to call Rappahannock Cellars home since 2011, and I haven’t ‘worked’ a day since! This business has grown into something truly unique, and the distillery operation fits right into doing what I love every day: making wine.”