Wine is the Answer

Connecticut Wine Maker Focuses On Health & Longevity.

Dr. Paul DiGrazia has been a respected obstetrician and gynecologist in the Brookfield, Connecticut, area for 50 years. He is also a highly regarded geneticist and in earlier years conducted progressive clinical trials on the genetic understanding of breast cancer and achieved breakthroughs in radical medical procedures, such as intrauterine transfusions, which had never been done before.

Yet, at the age of 80, he can honestly say that the passion and inspiration he finds in life now came about because of a bottle of wine.

DiGrazia purchased 89 acres in 1978 and started growing grapes on the property with his wife, Barbara.  The grapes were planted the first year by 12 students from Brookfield High School on spring break, the vineyard was founded in 1984.  “I came into the kitchen one day and said to my wife, ‘I have to make wine,’” recalls “I had no idea why I said that. It was really bizarre because it just came out of my mouth.  I get goose bumps thinking about it.”

From that day on, Dr. DiGrazia has devoted his time and attention to the craft and science of winemaker, which is no small feat in an era of big California and Italian winemakers who capture a lion share of the market. “Who wants to drink wine from Connecticut?” asks DiGrazia. He knew that in order to compete at all, his product had to be different. What did people want in their wine, and more importantly, what did they not want?

At that point, Dr. DiGrazia’s years of practice as a doctor and scientist started to meld with that mysterious calling he experienced in the kitchen. He knew he had to make a healthy, natural wine, free from the sulfite preservatives that most wineries rely on for production.  Although sulfites have anti-oxidant properties, many people are allergic to them, and they are not usually a part of the natural winemaking process.

In order to produce a natural, organic wine, DiGrazia needed to overcome a number of obstacles. First, he had to establish impeccable sterilization techniques. DiGrazia’s training as a physician prepared him to set up and maintain appropriate protocols for sterilization. Second, he had to learn how to combat the natural oxidation process, which creates free radical molecules.  It’s these unstable molecules that cause damage to cells or to the DNA contained within cells. Free radicals are thought to play a part in the aging process, in some autoimmune diseases, and in the development of cancer.

His first hurdle was easy, but the second hurdle proved a big challenge. Yet, it is that challenge that has sparked Dr. DiGrazia’s passion and has turned him into a zealot for discovery.

“The craft of making wine has been around for centuries, and it’s clear that drinking wine offers great health benefits,” says DiGrazia, citing evidence that points to wine’s ability to prevent platelets from aggregating within artery walls, reducing the instances of stroke and heart attacks, especially during the night when blood flow is lower. “But there is so much more that we don’t know. There are natural elements in grapes like wild yeast cells and superoxide dismutase enzymes that are there for a reason. They have a positive affect on our bodies’ chemistry.  I think I’m suppose to unravel some of that mystery.”

It’s clear that Dr. DiGrazia is passionate about his work, and he’s forging ahead into unchartered territory with a limitless curiosity and a deep understanding that this is what he’s suppose to do. Will his exploration help him create a financially profitable business? According to DiGrazia, probably not, but the venture has opened many doors. He’s becoming more involved in the political arena, pushing for clear labeling about what is in wine products. He’s also an ardent educator and never turns down an opportunity to speak about what he’s learning.

“I’m usually a fairly private and quiet person, but when I talk about wine and everything that I’ve been discovering, something changes. Words seem to flow,” DiGrazia says.

Plus, he has some very sound advice: “Search for what you like to do, and then immerse yourself in it.”

Oh, just one more thing — DiGrazia Vineyard produces some of the tastiest, well balanced, and healthiest wine that you’re probably ever likely to drink, and knowing that this man’s talent and imagination is captured in every bottle he sells makes it that much sweeter.

DiGrazia Vineyard makes eighteen different table and dessert wines and is dedicated to producing premium wines of quality and unique variety. The wines range from dry to sweet, using estate grown grapes, local fruit, honey and aged brandy. Their two vineyard sites are established on high sloping hills to maximize growing potential. Steep hillsides aid drainage and are typically low in nutrient or organic matter due to years of erosion. Unlike most fruit and vegetables, grapes don’t do well in organic rich soil.  The grapes grown lead to crisp, flavorful wines. Nine varieties of premium hybrid and native American wine grapes are planted.

Dr. Digrazia, founder and winemaker, is widely known for his clean, crisp style of winemaking and his innovative flair. He has been intensively involved in the production of high antioxidant wines. A wide range of table and dessert wines are offered at DiGrazia Vineyards including whites, blushes, reds, nouveau, spiced pumpkin, red and white port, and other unique wines. They are also available in Connecticut package stores by mail and online at http://DiGrazia.com  They can be reached by phone and email   203-775-1616 [email protected]       Oct. 2012 By Kimberley Elzinga