Ice Wine Excites a Flourishing Canadian Wine Industry
Known as Canada’s “liquid gold”, the vitality and intricacy of the country’s famed ice wine, has long captured the world’s attention. Ice wine continues to garner critical acclaim, winning medals in both domestic and international competitions, and endearing its loyal followers to the rurally sophisticated Ontario winemaking region.
As the world’s finest and largest estate producer of ice wine, Pilitteri Estates Winery has given an increased level of notoriety to Canada’s burgeoning wine industry. Located in the heart of Niagara Wine Country, this innovative estate’s commitment to producing the best ice wine the world has to offer, has earned it over 600 wine awards in the past 17 years.
The Best of the Best
Gary Pilliterri’s dream of owning a winery became a reality in June of 1993. Originally from Sicily, Pilliteri’s winemaking philosophy was "To produce the finest wines possible from the highest quality Niagara Peninsula grapes." Though it seemed like a relatively sizeable task, with the support of his family, this establishment has become the premier ice wine producer and distributor in the world. Pilliterri currently distributes to 28 countries world-wide.
Pilliterri Estates is a family owned and operated establishment. According to the company’s website, Gary's son Charles is CEO and President of Sales, daughter Connie is CFO and President of Operations, daughter Lucy is CMO and President of Marketing, and son-in-law Jamie Slingerland is the Director of Viticulture.
What is Ice Wine and How is it Made?
Ice wine is celebrated for its luscious scent, exquisite palate, and its undeniable elegance. With just over 100 acres of prime grape growing soil, harvests begin and end at Pilliterri. Though making ice wine can prove to be a difficult and daunting task, Ontario’s climate is one of few regions in the world that consistently delivers quality ice wine year after year.
Ice wine is produced from frozen grapes left on the vine after the fall harvest. Temperatures must dip below an extreme -8ºC before the grapes are ready for harvesting. After the fruits freeze, they are crushed and the sweet nectar inside the grape is carefully extracted. The process is challenging and intense but the end result is a delectably sweet desert wine that enchants and delights your senses. Often with hints of rich fruits like mango, apricot and pear, ice wine is a perfect accompaniment to a long, lazy, summer’s day.
Pilliterri is a pioneer in Canada’s flourishing wine country. By producing the world’s best ice wine, and continuously being recognized world-wide for his achievements in viticulture, this industry leader has excited the wine world with his innovations. Simply put, Pilliterri Estates Winery continues to enthrall wine enthusiasts around the world as one of the best ice wine innovators of our time.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.