Following his sudden death Friday, Jason’s Vineyard owner Jason Damianos was remembered by family and friends as a hard worker who “lived life to the fullest.”
“He was a beautiful human being,” said his younger brother, Pindar Damianos. “He would give you the shirt off his back. He was an amazing person. He did everything in life 100 percent and although he only lived a short life, 49 years, he impacted not only the wine industry but [the community] as a 20-year member of the Mattituck Fire Department.”
Damianos, 49, of Mattituck was driving a 2005 Ford F-150 pickup truck around 6 a.m. on Route 58 near Harrison Avenue in Riverhead when he crashed into a 2007 Jeep Cherokee driven by Savanna Lake, 19, of Sound Beach, said Riverhead Town police. He later died at Peconic Bay Medical Center.
Pindar Damianos said his brother had “a remarkable life” — one filled with travel, education, friends and, of course, wine.
Damianos, who grew up working at his family’s properties, Pindar and Duck Walk vineyards, attended the University of Hartford, graduating with a degree in business.
“He came home after graduation and was working at the winery and I think he fell in love with the making of wine and that whole industry,” Pindar Damianos said. “Jason could have easily stayed home and learned, but he decided to go to California, Fresno State University, for an oenology degree.”
Following his graduation from Fresno State, Damianos — who at the time spoke no French — enrolled in the Diplôme National d’Oenologue program at the University of Bordeaux in France.
He returned home to establish Jason’s Vineyard in Jamesport in 1996, opening its tasting room in 2009. The younger Damianos said his brother had a lifelong love for animals, something that led him to keep sheep and alpacas at the winery.
Pindar Damianos said his family will take over operations at Jason’s Vineyard in an effort to honor his brother. They have operated Pindar and Duck Walk vineyards since the death of their father, Dr. Herodotus “Dan” Damianos, in 2014.
“That’s what he would want,” Pindar Damianos said. “Jason would want us to rally around him, around his love, and just like we did with my dad, we’ll continue to keep his legacy going.”
Damianos also worked as director of winemaking at Pindar Vineyards, which he co-owned with his brothers, Alexander and Pindar, and sister Alethea Damianos Conroy. Under the guidance of their father, the family opened Pindar Vineyards — one of Long Island’s oldest and largest wineries — in 1980. Dr. Damianos and his son Alexander opened Duck Walk Vineyards in 1994.
“Jason, from what I knew and saw, he had a passion for winemaking and trying to produce the best wines,” said Ron Goerler Jr., a family friend and president of Jamesport Vineyards. The Goerler family’s vineyard was founded in 1981. “He was a person who had respect for the people in our industry and a good, positive attitude.”
Along with a passion for wine, Damianos was a dedicated member of the North Fork community, serving in the Mattituck Fire Department for nearly 20 years as a firefighter and emergency medical technician.
“He will be remembered for his hard work, dedication to his community, love of the fire department and love of the wine industry,” Pindar Damianos said. “He was proud to be part of the North Fork and living in this community. He will be greatly missed.”
Damianos is survived by his fiancée, Andrea Parks; his aforementioned siblings, including his sister Eurydice Damianos; his mother, Barbara Damianos, and his nieces and nephews.
Services will be held at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Mattituck from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. today, Thursday, Jan. 5, and Friday, Jan 6. A firematic service will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Liturgy of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Louis de Montfort Roman Catholic Church in Sound Beach on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 11 a.m. Interment will follow at Sea View Cemetery in Mount Sinai.
Memorial donations may be made to the Mattituck Fire Department, Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson or Peconic Bay Medical Center.