• A First Crush

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    First Crush Winery
    Gail O'Rourke
    Gail O'Rourke (founder/owner of White Wood Kitchens) provides quality cabinets, expert design and full scope project management from concept to completion for any project. Gail comes alongside you to help bring your kitchen redesign efforts those final crucial steps that help bring your home to life.
    Gail O'Rourke

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    A First Crush

    It’s not easy finding First Crush Winery.

    Then, when you think you finally have the right address, you have to resist the temptation to say: ‘It can’t be in this industrial park in Harwich.’

    A winery? Here?

    This unlikely locale is matched only by its very unlikely owner and wine maker. Dr. Frank Puzio  has been a very successful optometrist in Harwich for three decades. But, like so many baby boomers wanting to reinvent themselves rather than to retire, he has transformed his passion into a successful and very tasty new business.

    When the Luxx Concierge walked through the door of First Crush Winery on an early fall Friday, it was a very pleasant shock to the senses. Right there was a very tastefully decorated tasting room with soothing lights and wood décor, very similar to the scene you would encounter in Napa Valley.

    Fortunately, Dr. Puzio had taken a day off from his optometry practice and was working intently monitoring the wine casks. He immediately approached with a wide smile and handshake.

    Two hours and four tastings later, the Luxx Concierge not only had toured the winemaking premises, but also became the newest member then of First Crush’s coop of wine lovers.

    The winery does not have a traditional daily tour and tasting, but visits are encouraged by appointment.

    You’ll pay $15 for a full tasting, but it will be waived when you purchase a bottle of First Crush wines. And chances are you will purchase. The Luxx Concierge left with a full-bodied Zinfandel and a delightfully dry Sauvignon Blanc from this year’s production,

    Dr. Puzio has practiced optometry on the Cape for 35 years. His career has often taken him across the country and Canada lecturing. He also holds patents on eye-care instrumentation and is founder of OPS Software, pioneering communication and electronic health record software in eye care utilized by thousands of eye care professionals across the country.

    With a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, Dr. Puzio’s entrepreneurial bent has extended to his ever-evolving passion for enology. He began dabbling in winemaking three decades ago, and in recent years, it has truly blossomed.

    “The mission for First Crush Winery is simple; to produce exquisite wines that will turn the heads of the most discriminating, utilizing the finest fruit in the land while sparing no expense on equipment and technology,” he explains amid his impeccable winemaking facility occupying two adjacent units of the industrial park.

    The name First Crush is a play-on-words depicting the realities of making wine, along with the social enjoyment experienced consuming wine.

    “The first step in making wine is a process called the crush that strips the grapes from their stems to yield only berries and juice in preparation for fermentation,” explains Puzio. “In addition, when the nectar of the God’s is enjoyed, it is typically in the presence of friends, family and/or with a person in your life that elicits a meaningful crush. And so, we are First Crush Winery.”

    Puzio always is asked: “Where do you grow grapes?”

    Not on Cape Cod.

    First Crush’s grapes are procured from some of the best wine-growing regions in the country, especially Northern California – and Puzio has developed strong relationships over the years with favorite vintners. They are shipped in refrigerated trucks directly to Harwich.

    “Our growers are not simply a resource, they are our friends,” he says.

    “The Suisun Valley AVA literally borders Napa Valley and benefits from a Mediterranean climate, fertile soils with volcanic minerals and significant marine air influences during the summer.

    “Our growers, the Lanza family maintain 225 acres of pristine vineyards within walking distance to Napa Valley on the southeast, closest to the Stagg’s Leap District of Napa Valley.  They can make available to us both hillside and valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petite Syrah, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.

    You can always drop by with an appointment, taste the wines and purchase by the bottle, but Puzio is more interested in building a close community around his wines by becoming members of his Coop.

    Members not only can reserve wines at reduced costs, but they also can participate in the winemaking process. They attend social events and wine tastings, while receiving ongoing emails documenting progress with the newest year’s wine production.

    Coop members can even reserve their own barrel of wine and may secure private lebeling for events like weddings.

    Coop membership requires a minimum reserve of 2 cases (24 bottles) and a 50 percent deposit, with the balance due at bottling.

    It will cost $180 for two cases and slightly less the more cases you order per year.

    First Crush has been producing four wines per year. In addition to the Zinfandel and Sauignon Blanc, Puzio has produced a “Fusion” composed primarily of hillside and valley California Cabernet Sauvignon, secondarily Merlot and a small percentage of Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Aged in new medium-toast French and Hungarian oak for one full year.

    A fourth wine is a red that fancifully merges cranberry and raisin.

    “Since our winery resides in the historic cranberry region of Harwich on Cape Cod, we are pleased to offer this pleasurable elixir. Local hand-picked cranberries are mixed with a percentage of California white raisins. Our family enjoys this beverage over ice with a squeeze of lime creating an experience that will delight you with every sip,” says Puzio.

    To contact Puzio and arrange a visit, email info@firstcrushwinery.com or call either 508-362-2423 or 508-737-6867 or visit online at firstcrushwinery.com.

    November 05, 2014