The white grape variety originates from Sicily(Italy). Synonyms are Ariddu, Riddu and Rossese Bianco. According to DNA analyses last carried out in 2019, it originated from a presumably natural crossing between Catarratto Bianco Comune x Muscat d'Alexandrie (Zibibbo). This disproves the hypothesis that it originated in Puglia. The Rossese Bianco grown in Liguria is identical. Grillo, however, must not be confused with one of the four white Rossese varieties. is a relatively young vine, the earliest mention dates back to 1873.
The late-maturing, high-yielding vine is resistant to winter frost, but susceptible to powdery mildew. It produces white wines rich in alcohol and extract, with a light tannin content and fine aromas of citrus and herbs. The variety is mainly cultivated in Sicily in the province of Trapani. It was widespread in Italy until the outbreak of phylloxera around 1880. However, it was then displaced by more productive varieties like Catarratto Bianco and Inzolia. It is permitted in the DOC wines Alcamo, Contea di Sclafani, Contessa Entellina, Delia Nivolelli, Mamertino di Milazzo, Marsala, Monreale, Salaparuta and Sicilia. In Italy, it occupies 7,382 hectares of vineyards with a strong upward trend. Small areas of cultivation also exist in Australia (1 ha), Brazil and Mexico. In 2016, a total of 7,383 hectares of vines were reported. This puts it in 92nd place in the global grape variety rankings (Kym Anderson statistics).