Riverview Cellars Winery
There are times you realize that the Niagara wine community is just one big family, and sometimes that’s taken to a literal extreme, especially when it comes to a winery such as Riverview – owned by another part of the Pillitteri family.
Riverview sits on a piece of land owned by Sam and Lina, who purchased the plot in 1975; they ran a small fruit market (as many people started out doing) with the help of their four children. In 1992, they decided to put some grapes in the ground, which they acquired from Sam’s brother’s winery Pillitteri and by 1998 6 acres of grapes had sub-planted the fruit. Also, around that time, their youngest son, Michael, had been bitten hard by the wine-bug, insisting they start a winery, and in September 2000, with the name Pillitteri already adorning one Niagara winery, a new Pillitteri-owned winery opened its doors with the name “Riverview Cellars” on the sign.
Today, the winery has 23 acres of planted vines, including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Gewurztraminer, Vidal and Baco Noir. When asked Mike PIllitteri (general manager) what his favorite wine from the farm is, he does not hesitate with his answer: “We have always made great Gewurztraminer” that has tickled his taste buds, it’s part of the original 1992 planting, the why is just as important as the what: “the intense peach and ginger aromas really make it shine,” he finishes. That Gewurztraminer is also part of what makes the Riverview portfolio so special, along with their Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon which Mike insists are the grapes the winery specializes in.
Since 1992, Mike says he’s seen “massive changes” in the Ontario wine industry: “we were always fighting to get more Ontario wines in more places and I’m happy to see that has changed a fair bit. Nothing is perfect, ” he insists, “but more grocery stores, LCBO shelf space, restaurants, etc.” is a plus. But the biggest change has got to be “the respect and demand for Ontario wines.”
As for what’s going on at the winery, there will be some switching out (or replanting) of “some varieties to increase some new varietal demand”, plus expansion of the building and production areas are inevitable.
It’s always nice to hear wineries praise other wineries, as well as touting themselves. It’s natural and expected that the folks at Riverview will tip their collective hats to Pillitteri (“our cousins”), but they also toss a little kudos towards Ravine Vineyards who “always do an amazing job.”
The wines at Riverview are looked after by Alyssa Wertsch and Nick Salvatore. Alyssa started at Ravine in 2008, serving and selling and attending Brock’s enology and viticulture program, she became the full-time winemaker in 2011. Nick also started in the boutique, serving and selling back in 2015, but moved quickly into the cellar – he is a graduate of the Niagara College wine program (2020).
Seems like Riverview is in good hands from their GM to the winemaking team and plans for the future look bright indeed.
Top wines according to the winery:
Rosso Cabernet Merlot
Bianco Riesling Gilbert’s Terminator
Barrel 81 Cabernet Merlot
Riverview can be found at…
15376 Niagara Parkway
Socially you can find them on…
Twitter – @RiverviewWinery
Facebook – Riverview Cellars Estate Winery
Instagram – @riverviewcellars
Michael Pinkus is a multi-award-winning journalist as well as national and international wine judge. He is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in numerous publication both in Canada and internationally. He is also the sole writer for his eponymous website MichaelPinkusWineReview.com (formerly OntarioWineReview.com), and past-President of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada (2010-2015).
You can also follow him two ways on Facebook: (Michael Pinkus