Summary: Pitars with a long history provides a wonderful experience for wine enthusiasts. In the distance Pitars winery is reminiscent of a castle. Visitors will be welcomed and will want to spend time enjoying the views of the vineyards and perusing the gift shop.
Our bus for the Media FAM group of the International Wine Tourism Conference reached Pitars mid-morning. The red brick winery reminds one of a modern castle complete with a tower. Large windows add the sense of modernity.
The Pitars family name is in the Fruili language and the name is tied into the tradition of the Friuli area. The mountains are to the north and the Adriatic Sea is to the south. Breezes help to keep the vineyards dry. The poor soils of the vineyards vary. The topsoil layer diminishes to rocky soil closer to the river.
From the first floor of the tasting room visitors can view the vineyards. After noting that trees appearing to be totally pruned back bordered some of the vineyards, we learned that these are mulberry trees. These trees are “protected” and cannot be cut down. At one time this area of Italy was known for its silk industry. The leaves of the mulberry tree were used for the silkworms. On the first floor we discovered woodcarvings displayed. Upon inquiring we learned that these carvings were created by Arianna Gasperina. Pitars will have an event honoring the artist.
A large area of the first floor is the location for a gift shop and purchasing wines. Many items are available including musically shaped containers of liquors. Any of these would be a special gift for a music lover.
We were greeted quickly by Nicola Pittaro and enjoyed the ambiance of the facility while on his tour. After a little time we began climbing the elegant curved stairway to the second floor and then continued on to the third floor, the pinnacle of the tower. Four large windows on each side of the room provided views of the surrounding vineyards stretching into the distance. Many of the writers took photos of the scenery. Wood dominates the room and an Oriental-style rug with a decorative wood table in the center adds ambiance. This area has a high wood ceiling.
The vineyards cover 140 hectares. Grape varieties include Fruilano, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. Pitars is beginning to follow biodynamic principles in some of the vineyards. At the time of our March visit, the vineyards were still dormant.
Originally it was thought that mechanical harvesting of grapes was harmful for wine production. However, now mechanical harvesting has improved so that only ripe grapes are harvested by shaking. At Pitars they now believe that mechanical harvesting is better than hand harvesting.
Pitars is a family owned and operated winery in the Friuli region of Italy. The vineyards are located in the Grave D.O.C.
Pitars produces 500,000 bottles (40,000 plus cases.) The winery with a large warehouse has many tanks and four presses.
As the winery was described to us, it was pointed out the use of sustainability at Pitars. It has state of the art energy savings with solar panels. The building, finished in 2008, was built with recycled materials. No cement was used. It was noted that one needs to be careful when using some sustainable materials. Nicola pointed out the damage done by woodpeckers.
To make a sweet wine, Pitars dries six varieties of grapes including the indigenous Picolit with the white grapes. The dried red grapes are used to produce premium wines.
Returning to the first floor we went to a large table for a wine and cheese tasting. Pitars uses Stölze stemware. Montasio cheese was presented on a small plate in four sections. Montasio is renowned in the Friuli region and protected by the EU. The cheeses included a Montasio Fresco aged for three months, a Montasio Semistragionato aged for six months and a Montasio Stragionato aged for 40 months. The fourth cheese was a Formandi Frant.
A placemat was prepared for the wine and cheese pairing. The names of the wines with spaces for notes as well as the names of the cheeses were on the place mat.
Ribolla Gialla Spumante Blanc was produced with 100 percent Ribolla Gialla. The straw colored wine was dry and provided some green apple and citrus notes. Prosecco was clean and crisp with a touch of sweetness. Tureis IGT 2010 was a blend of Friulano, Chardonnay and Sauvignon. Tureis is the name of a star. The Chardonnay was aged in barrels for 16 months. The wine was a dark yellow with floral and caramel aromas. The taste had several things happening in the mouth. It was crisp and very smooth with tropical notes and offered layers of flavors.
Naos I.G.T. 2007 was a blend of Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Each grape was dried and vinified separately. The result was a dark purple to black wine with dark fruit notes especially cherry and notes of licorice and tobacco. The fruity wine was smooth with tannins. The fruit yielded to tobacco. The wine is blended with other wines made from grapes that were not dried. The wine was 14 percent alcohol.
When traveling in the Friuli region of Italy, be sure to schedule a stop at Pitars winery where you will discover a delightful winery experience. The tasting room is open Monday through Saturday by appointment.
Via Tonello 10
33098 San Martino al Tagliamento, Italy
Article written March 2013
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