Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Search For An Answer Cannot Provide The Closure To The Question! Patrick Del-Gatto (May 22, 1963-September 15, 2022)

 He came from a traditional heritage of wine making! In his veins flowed the blood of  generations of vignaioli who worked the land, grew the vines,  wiped the sweat, kicked the dirt, picked the grapes and made the wine. Patrick Del-Gatto inherited the love of the vine, in all its manners, that was handed down from from father to son for four generations going back to the time of his great grandfather who was the winemaker in the village of Croce some 75 kilometres from Naples, Italy!
This ingrained feeling of "the earth" never left Patrick Del-Gatto even though his family settled far away from the peaceful village that they came from to the City of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Deep down Patrick knew that he wanted to get his hands in some soil and kick dirt with his boots. This yearning took him to Prince Edward County where he was determined to risk all and bring back the family tradition.
He and his father took several trips to potential sites and as luck would have it, during early winter they came upon as site which made the older Del-Gatto's eyes open wide. 
In a widespread area of dead vegetation they came upon a parcel of land that still had flowers and green grass. This was the land and Del-Gatto Estates began!
Patrick and I met about  six years ago at the winery. It was a long trip and Del-Gatto was the last of group being visited. I was ready to call it a day but Roy Maeder who was driving encouraged me to go on since we only had six kilometres to go. I relented and the rest was fate taking its turn.
Patrick came out to greet us with an infectious smile that outshone the bright shining day.  Challenging his smile was the enthusiastic shine of his eyes as he introduced us to his winery, showed us his wine and explained what he was doing and where he wanted to go with this. 
It wasn't an easy road to undertake. There were many potholes, some very serious, that made the journey very difficult. Everything from the passing of his beloved father, family health problems and equipment breakdown added to the usual problems of weather, pests and government interference. Patrick and his wife Heidi carried on. 
Whether attempting to grow and make wine out of vinifera species not supposed to grow in the region to the trying out of new hybrids from  Minnesota to the production of figs from his beloved fig tree, Patrick did it all with the same enthusiasm that he greeted his friends. Among the many things that he did was the successful production of his prized wine "Odyssey Pinotage".
He became enamoured with the South African Grape and was positive he could produce it here in the microclimate of Prince Edward County's beautiful North Marysburgh! He went at it with his usual gusto and it was no surprise that he did it! I am proud to have almost every vintage in my cellar. 
Patrick was a man who cared. He cared about his family. He cared about his friends. He cared about his land. He cared about his vines. He just cared about life.
I have never met a man like him who I was drawn to without the opportunity to spend much time with. We weren't buddies in the buddy sense of the word. The man was bigger than life and filled a room with his aura every time he entered it. 
I was fortunate to have him attend the International Wine Festival held yearly at the City of Oshawa's  McLaughlin Art Gallery! It was no surprise that he outshone the other wineries present. People saw and felt what I saw and felt on that first day and every time he and I met. They saw charm, honesty, integrity, intelligence and above all love. I will miss him! We all will miss him!
There is a saying that an oriental instructor once taught me:
"Love cannot be measured until the hour of passing. 
Trust comes from within one! 
Is not to trust but to rely on someone we know nothing about?
 Every ending has a new beginning. 
Seek not to know the answers but to understand the questions!"
Patrick we will meet again and maybe you can help me understand those questions!