Pitars is a winery located in San Martino al Tagliamento in Friuli-Venezia Giulia with 160 hectares of vineyards in the three estates. Behind this vast activity is the Pittaro family, the founder of which is Romano Pittaro when back in 1880 he planted a vine of Merlot imported from France in his vineyards. But it wasn’t until the return of his son Angelo to Italy after a few years in Venezuela that a modern winery was built in the estate. Thus, the Cantina San Martino was born in 1968 which was later on changed to Pitars. Currently, the family tradition of making wines is kept alive by the third generation of the family: Loris, Bruno, Mauro and Paolo Pittaro along with the fourth generation: Nicola, Stefano, Alessandro, Jessica and Judy.
The vineyards of the Pitars lie on the riverbed of the last morphologically intact river in Europe, the Tagliamento River. The basin of the Tagliamento is a candidate to become a “biosphere reserve” of UNESCO. It is a unique territory where deposited minerals from the alps of Friuli-Venezia Giulia enrich the alluvial soil that the river brings downstream. The vineyards are located in different areas of the riverbed and various grape varieties are cultivated in specific areas where they respond well with the peculiarities of the soil that can optimize their characteristics to the maximum. The red grape varieties prefer the more clayey soils of the Passariano vineyards which retain water and minerals useful for the growth of the plant and the ripening of the grapes. The white varieties instead are located at the San Martino estate where the soil has a big presence of gravel which are rich in minerals and gives more drainage. In this soil condition, the grapes can best express their aromatic characteristics along with minerality and freshness. Whereas at the Rivolto estate, 92 hectares of vineyards give most of the white wines where there is a rich biodiversity in the area. Located in a natural amphitheater with an accumulation of soil and stones deposited by a glacier, the cold currents coming from the Alps meet the temperate breezes of the Adriatic Sea.
“The vine is an intelligent plant, which is able to adapt to almost all latitudes by optimizing the resources available,” commented Alessandro, who follows the agronomic part with Paolo. “A soil rich in stones and lean can affect the growth of the vine but this is not a limit for the quality of the product; on the contrary, it helps to characterize the wines of our area. We have chosen to associate the most congenial varieties to each soil. The vineyards benefit both from the fresh air coming from the mountains and from the sirocco rich in salts coming from the sea . In the same way, the soil and water that the vines feed on are enriched by the constant contributions of the Tagliamento: they breathe and feed on the natural environment created by the river, which fortunately has preserved a high degree of naturalness to this day.”
The identity of Pitars if strongly linked to the Tagliamento River and the natural environment that characterizes it. Protecting it by applying a 360°concept of sustainability is the commitment that the company undertakes every day, in honor of the unique heritage of these lands. In particular, the vineyards of the San Martino estate are located in the protected environment of the river. It is a complex and fragile ecosystem which the Pittaro family safeguards through production choices, both in the vineyard and in the cellar, aimed at minimizing the environmental impact.
“Being Friulain for us means bond with the territory, a peasant culture of which we are the last bastion and which brings with it values such as attachment to work and the culture of doing things well,” says Nicola Pittaro, sales manager. “Working in a family business is not easy, because the processes are not structured. In the most difficult moments, however, when it is necessary to hold on and look forward, the family reveals its unparalleled value and demonstrates its infinite capacity for resilience and stability.”
After a virtual tasting of the three expressions of their Sauvignon Blanc a few months ago, a visit to the winery and to the Tagliamento River followed suit recently. It completed the loop by having full comprehension of Pitars, its story, the land and the wines. Much of the experience is getting to know the richness of the Tagliamento River where we had the chance to walk on its dry riverbed, taking part in a culturally and historically inclined annual event of the nearby town, the Medioevo a Valvasone, visiting Biblioteca Guarneriana and tasting more of the wines of Pitars paired with the prosciutto di San Daniele produced by a small artisan producer, La Glacere. (These can be found in separate articles.)