Sam and Lina Pillitteri married in 1965, and purchased their current Niagara-on-the-Lake farmland home in 1975. There, they raised daughters Connie, Maria, Angela, and son Michael. The property came with a small, historic storefront running along the Niagara Parkway which the Pillitteri family maintained as a fruit market. As somewhat of a rite of passage, all of the children helped out on the farm during the summer.
In 1992, Sam redeveloped some of the farm by growing grapes for his brother’s winery. Seeing Michael get
older and sensing the fruit market was the past, Sam placed his future in the ground… one vine at a time. Slowly, methodically, the fruit orchard was uprooted in favour of vitis vinifera grapes. By mid-1998, about 6 acres of grapes were planted with plans in place for the remainder of the farm. While Sam and Lina had a sense of satisfaction from grape-growing, they also thought about opening their own winery. Michael began a Bachelor of Business Economics degree at McMaster University, but returned often to develop Riverview Cellars with his family.