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 took 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, son-in-law Jamie Slingerland is Director of Viticulture and grandson Richard is the Business Development Manager.
The grapes are harvested primarily from the family’s vineyards of just over 100 acres, planted with vitis vinifera and French Hybrid grape varieties. Every member of the Pillitteri family has worked on the farm and at the winery. Today the 5th generation family members, Gary and Lena’s grandchildren work the retail store and assist with regular vineyard maintenance during the summers while they are not in school.