Pindar Vineyards Founder, Long Island Wine Pioneer Dies

Posted August 20, 2014 by Lenn Thompson in Regions

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The Long Island wine community lost another of its pillars earlier this week when Dr. Herodotus “Dan” Damianos died of pulmonary fibrosis.

Dr. Dan as he was known to most, Founded Pindar Vineyards in 1980 and was a great populizer of Long Island wine, gaining wide distribution for his wines and seeing his tasting room packed with tourists.

I didn’t know him well, but I know that he was well respected by his colleagues within the New York wine community.

The Long Island Wine Council posted this tribute yesterday:

“The Long Island wine community is mourning the passing of a regional pioneer and one of the industry’s true icons. Dr. Herodotus “Dan” Damianos, founder of Pindar and Duck Walk Vineyards, passed away on Monday at the age of 83 after a long illness. 

Dr. Damianos purchased 36 acres of land on the North Fork in 1979 and planted his first Chardonnay vines in 1980. Together with Duck Walk Vineyards which he acquired in 1994, his acreage would grow to some 600 acres, of which over 500 are planted with 17 different varieties of grapes. With between 50,000 and 60,000 cases of wine produced annually, Pindar is the largest winery on Long Island. His wines were among the earliest to penetrate the New York City market, and received numerous awards and accolades. In 1988, Pindar wines were served at the inauguration of President George H.W. Bush.

Dr. Dan, as was he known by friends and colleagues, became a very important figure in the wine world, not just on Long Island where he was always active in the Wine Council’s leadership, but in New York as a long-time board member of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, and nationally, as a member of the WineAmerica board. Recognizing his considerable contribution to the development of New York’s wine industry, Dr. Damianos was the first and one of only two Long Island recipients of the Foundation’s Unity Award. Established in 1990, the Award celebrates “individuals who have volunteered their time, shown exceptional leadership, and achieved recognized results in building industry co-operation and unity.” 

The sense of loss will extend well beyond the wine community. The size and scale of his wine operations meant that Pindar and Duck Walk became important forces in the local economy, accounting for hundreds of jobs and thousands of tourists to the North Fork every year. Dr. Damianos was a constant and very personable presence at his wineries and in the community. He delighted in engaging with people generally and easily charmed customers, local residents and the many dignitaries he came into contact with during his 35 years in the wine industry. He was also an active and very generous supporter of many local causes and charities. 

Members of the Long Island wine industry, together with the many others touched by Dr. Dan, are deeply saddened by this tremendous loss the region, and join in sending our heartfelt condolences to the entire Damianos family.”





    I met Dr. Dan very early on in my blogging career. We had a brief, but important conversation. A conversation that I still heed to today. He told me, “Michael, I’m glad that you are writing, or blogging, or what ever you call it. Keep in mind two things when you are writing; Be honest and be positive.” Rest in Peace. My condolences to the entire Damianos family and his extended family.


    I worked for Dan as his General Manager from 1989 until 1991when I took a leave of absence to come back to Rochester to be around my father who had a rare form of cancer. Working for Dan was the best job I ever had. He was kind and generous to everyone who worked for him. He was brilliant and I learned so much from him in those few years and when I purchased Fox Run Vineyards in 1994 the knowledge I gained from him helped me develop Fox Run into what it is today. His marketing knowledge and uncanny ability to give tours all weekend long pretty much introduced Long Island wines and the North Fork wine industry to Long Islanders. He will be missed by me and I am sure many other winery owners here in New York.

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