Passion, not Pretense

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Julio.jpgPalmaz Vineyards reflects the ingenuity and determination of its owner.


By Ethan Fletcher

Dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, Julio Palmaz doesn't give the impression of being the millionaire inventor of a medical device that has saved many lives. Just as his Palmaz Vineyards, located virtually unmarked off a windy country road on the outskirts of Napa, doesn't seem all that extraordinary at first glance. But like the winery, which houses one of the most sophisticated underground wine-making operations in the world, Palmaz has more going on than meets the eye.

Trim and youthful looking at 63, Palmaz was born outside of Buenos Aires-his father, a bus driver, used to send the young Julio to the store to fill up glass jugs with wine. After attending medical school in Argentina, he came to the United States in 1977 for his residency at UC Davis, and it was while living in the Bay Area that Palmaz and his wife, Amalia, discovered the magic of Napa Valley.
"I had this little white Triumph Spitfire, and we used to love exploring Wine Country on the weekends," Palmaz recalls.

It was also at Davis that Palmaz first came up with the idea that was to enable the couple to fulfill their fanciful dreams of one day owning their own Napa winery. Interested in medical innovation, Palmaz developed a coronary stent-a miniature collapsible scaffolding expanded by an inflatable balloon that essentially props up clogged arteries.

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