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The death of a Long Island wine pioneer

'Dr. Dan' Damianos
'Dr. Dan' Damianos

A wake will be held today and Tuesday for Dr. Herodotus "Dan" Damianos, 82, a pioneer among Long Island winemakers and the third prominent vintner to die this summer. "Dr. Dan," as he was affectionately nicknamed, died last week of pulmonary fibrosis at his home in Head of the Harbor.

"Dr. Dan was the embodiment of the term 'Reniassance man'," said Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. "Physician, entrepreneur, wine connoisseur, art lover, raconteur, and irrepressible bon vivant. His passing, combined with those of Ann Marie and Marco Borghese about a month ago, remind us that every day is a gift."

Trezise was referring to the death from cancer of Ann Marie Borghese and the death several days later of her husband Marco, who owned Castelo Borghese Vineyards.

Damianos was a first-generation Greek-American who went from growing up in a poor section of New York City to a prominent spot in both the medical and winemaking communities of Long Island as owner of Pindar Vineyards, one of the region's largest and oldest operations. He also owned Duck Walk Vineyards.

Damianos' path to becoming a medical doctor was a winding one. He received a bachelor's of education from SUNY Plattsburgh and later earned a master's in psychology and philosophy from New York University while working as a teacher. At age 24, he became the youngest principal in the city's schools. He served in the Korean war. He learned Italian and then went off to medical school in Italy at the University of Bologna in Italy. He had a double career for some years, practicing medicine and working at the vineyard until he devoted himself solely to the wine business starting in 1996 when he was 62.

Besides his wife, he is survived by sons Alexander, Jason and Pindar; daughters Alethea Damianos Conroy and Eurydice; and four grandchildren. The wakes will be at Branch Funeral Home, 551 New York 25A, Miller Place, today and Tuesday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. The funeral will be private.

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