Winemaker Jason Damianos was remembered Saturday by his family as an innovator who had already made a lasting imprint on the vineyards of Long Island.
Damianos, owner of Jason’s Vineyard in Jamesport, was a “warmhearted” man devoted to his community, serving as a longtime volunteer firefighter, said his younger brother, Pindar Damianos.
Jason Damianos, of Mattituck, died at a hospital after being critically injured in a two-vehicle crash early Friday morning in Riverhead, town police said. The cause is under investigation.
“He was only 49,” said Pindar Damianos, of Southold. “It was a short time, but he lived life to the fullest.”
Another brother, Alexander Damianos, 50, of Shoreham, said Jason worked every weekend in their family’s North Fork vineyards, from the age of 11 until he left for college.
“From 7 in the morning until 6 at night we did manual labor just like anyone else would do,” the brother said.
The work ethic was instilled by their father, the late Herodotus “Dan” Damianos, who in 1980 started Pindar Vineyards, one of the Island’s largest and oldest wineries.
Pindar Damianos, 40, said Jason took winemaking seriously. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in enology, the making of wine, studied winemaking in France, and worked in vineyards in several French regions.
“One thing about my brother is that when he did something, he did it 100 percent,” Pindar Damianos said.
He said his brother brought back from France a wine-grape-growing technique in which plantings had tighter spacing, leading to less fruit on each vine but higher quality. The technique later became common on Long Island, Damianos said.
Even after opening his own winery, Jason Damianos remained active in the family vineyards, along with his siblings, Pindar Damianos said.
He said the family will take over Jason’s Vineyard.
“We’ll continue his legacy and make him proud,” he said.
In addition to his devotion to winemaking, Jason Damianos served 20 years as a firefighter and EMT with the Mattituck Fire Department, his brother said.
Alethea Damianos Conroy, 48, of Mount Sinai, recalled how well-liked her brother was.
“He had a great personality,” she said. “He was very hospitable; the type of person to take his jacket off for you if you needed it.”
Visitation will be held 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Mattituck. Firematic services will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and a Liturgy of Christian Burial will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday St. Louis de Montfort Roman Catholic Church in Sound Beach.
Other survivors include his mother, Barbara Damianos, of Port Jefferson; his fiancee, Andrea “Andi” Parks, of Cutchogue; a sister, Eurydice Damianos, 47, of Manhattan; and three nieces and two nephews.