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Where Old World Meets New World

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About Pillitteri Estates Winery

Pillitteri Estates Winery proudly continues a family tradition of viticulture and winemaking excellence.Pillitteri Family

For Gary Pillitteri, the opening of Pillitteri Estates Winery in June of 1993 was the culmination of a lifetime dream. Since arriving in Canada from his native Sicily in 1948, and through many years as a grape grower in Niagara and amateur winemaker, his goal had been to open his own winery.

The turning point had taken place five years earlier when Gary won a gold medal for his Icewine in Niagara's amateur wine competition. He knew then that he could make his dream come true. But he had been thinking about early retirement and could only build a professional and high-quality winery with the expertise and full commitment of his family.

Pillitteri Estates Winery is truly a family enterprise: Gary's son Charles is C.E.O. President of Sales, daughter Connie is C.F.O President of Operations, daughter Lucy is C.M.O. President of Marketing. and son-in-law Jamie Slingerland is the Director of Viticulture.

The grapes are harvested primarily from the family's vineyards of just over 100 acres, planted with vitis vinifera and French Hybrid grape varieties. Following the exacting standards of the VQA (Vintner's Quality Alliance) production has increased steadily since the winery's opening, and currently stands at 600,000 litres. The winery's production facilities have recently undergone a major expansion, although growth in production is carefully controlled to ensure that the family's high quality standards are maintained.

Pillitteri CarettoThroughout the rapid growth and recent expansion of the winery, the family has not forgotten their heritage. The Pillitteri Logo contains a Sicilian cart, called a carretto, which is intricately painted with scenes of Pillitteri ancestors. The carretto represents the history of a family whose roots are deep in the cultivation of the land and the making of wine. The original antique, a cherished family heirloom, is proudly displayed in the winery's reception area.

Pillitteri's winemaking philosophy is quite simple: "To produce the finest wines possible from the highest quality Niagara Peninsula grapes." However, the strategy is much more complex. Each vineyard and wine is treated individually since each has its own 'personality' that must be expressed. The goal is to produce consistent, quality wine for the  consumer : rich, full-bodied reds; fragrant and lively whites; and luscious Icewines, all in a variety of styles to suit every palate.

This approach has earned Pillitteri Estates Winery a reputation for excellence. In the past twelve years the winery has been honoured with over 500 medals, at both domestic and international competitions. These include the coveted Civart Trophy from the Challenge International du Vin, in Bordeaux, France, and a rare Double Gold Medal from the American Wine Society in the United States.

From Gary's first Gold Medal to winning 2 Grand Golds at Vinitaly 2006, Icewine continues to be the Pillitteri flagship wine. In fact, Pillitteri Estates Winery is Canada's largest estate producer of Icewine, using the Vidal, Riesling, and Gewürztraminer varieties to produce Icewine that is exported to more than twelve countries worldwide.

 The family's commitment to producing wine of exceptional quality and character is demonstrated in each bottle bearing the Pillitteri name. Although rooted in family tradition, Pillitteri Estates Winery has been at the forefront of growth and expansion that has brought the Niagara wine region to the attention of the world.

The Pillitteri Chairs

Gary and Lena Pillitteri, founders and proprietors of Pillitteri Estates Winery, commissioned the creation of the twenty-three stainless steel chairs now hanging on the walls of our barrel cellar.  The chairs symbolically tell the story of the family of Gary and Lena Pillitteri.

Throughout his life the combination of 2's and 3's have been significant and auspicious for Gary.  November 23 was the day he left his native Sicily and arrived in Canada.  His wife Lena celebrates her birthday on December 23rd.  Their eldest child, Connie, was born on September 23rd and their other daughter Lucy was born on February 23rd.  Charles, their son, is the 3rd child and was born on the 2nd of August. The 23 chairs symbolize the importance of these numbers.

Gary is one of seven children.  They are signified by the seven vertically placed squares on the back of each chair.  The Roman numeral MCMXLVIII (1948) beside the second square signifies the year Gary came to Canada .  The next set of five squares refers to Lena Pillitteri who is one of five children.  The Roman numeral MCMLVII (1957), is the year she left Sicily for Canada .  The set of three squares represents their three children, Connie, Lucy and Charles.  These are followed by the Roman numeral MCMXLIII (1993), the year the winery was opened. 

The lines on the seats of the chairs signify Gary and Lina's five grandchildren:  Richard, Rachel, Gary, Alexander and Julia.  The lines converge at the Roman numeral MMVI (2006), the year the chairs were constructed.

The position of each chair at the table is indicated by a small triangle above one of the 23 circles on the chair's back.


The Barrel Cellar

The architectural intent of the cellar design is Neo Norman.  A sense of antiquity is evident in the concrete texture and form and simplicity.  One thousand three hundred and fifty metric tons of concrete were used to construct the cellar.

The immense and impressive monolithic concrete table with its terrazzo surface remains the cellar's focal point.  The table measures 500 inches in length and is arguably the longest concrete table in existence.  Additional and stunning features are the twenty-three stainless steel chairs displayed on the walls above.

The Barrel Cellar, while being a handsome sight, is primarily a wine cellar.  It meets the essential criteria: a constant temperature of 12° C (54° F), relative humidity of 50 to 70%, no vibration and protection against light.

Barrel aging of wine is a convention that dates back over 2000 years.  Oak barrels have traditionally been used for storing and aging of wines, contributing to the character development of the wines and enhancing flavours and aromas.  The barrels at Pillitteri Estates Winery are of French and American oak.