Dr. Juan Palomar, a Washington Twp. physician and former surgeon who planted vineyards and founded a winery near his boyhood home in southern Spain, died today, June 1. He was 69.
Dr. Palomar was a urologist who practiced in the Dayton and Southwest Ohio area. But many Miami Valley residents met Dr. Palomar through his other career as winery owner and importer of luxury food items from southern Spain.
“Juan treated thousands of patients throughout his medical career both in the USA and in Spain. He loved being a physician and would be a surgeon a thousand times over again if given the opportunity,” Dr. Palomar’s wife, Nola Palomar, wrote on Facebook 10 days ago in alerting friends of her husband’s declining health due to aggressive and rare brain tumors.
“He also loved to spread the passion and stories of his beautiful wines all around the world. If you had the chance to have a taste of our wines and a tapa or two in our home, then you had a unique opportunity to know this man. He loved to share his success in the vineyards and show off his family recipes. The biggest honor you can do for him is to continue to support his wines.”
In 2002, Dr. Palomar founded Dominio Buenavista, which produces wines under the Veleta label, along with olive oil, sherry, canned tuna, sardines and other specialty foods from an estate overlooking the village of Ugijar, below the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains, 30 miles from the Mediterranean Sea.
The physician told the Dayton Daily News in a 2004 interview that the project "started as a simple quest: to grow the type of grapes and make a wine similar to the wines from the Napa Valley." In addition to planting grape varietals associated with Spain, such as tempranillo, Dr. Palomar planted cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and chardonnay.
"Truly, I didn't know what I was getting into," he said.
As the magnitude of the quest slowly revealed itself, Palomar simply became more determined to succeed — for himself, but also for his Spanish neighbors.
"I see the good feelings that this enterprise has brought to the local villagers," he said. "They are as proud as I am of having a product from their land recognized in Spain and sold as far away as the United States."
Todd Templin, who oversees the wine departments of all three Dorothy Lane Market stores, described Dr. Palomar as “a true gentleman and a lover of good food and good wine. And he loved to share that passion with others.”
Brent Wagener, who oversees Wine Trends, one of the Dayton-based Heidelberg family of companies and distributor of Veleta wines, said Dr. Palomar “was a man who truly understood what some describe as quality of life.”
“From my time traveling to his hometown to stay with the Palomars and learn about the Southern Spanish way of life, to representation of his beautiful Veleta products, he surely was a man of passion and respect and made an impact on my life.”
Dr. Palomar is survived by his wife Nola and daughter Nolita. Funeral arrangements are pending.