Remembering John Balagna...

Nov 23, 2018 832

BY: Thomas R. Hill

It was with great sadness to note the passing last week of John Balagna. In addition to being a world-class Radiochemist and making important contributions to the nuclear weapons testing program, John made very important contributions to the New Mexico wine industry. John, being of Italian heritage and a chemistry background, took an early interest in wine, both in its drinking and making. His father reportedly had some of the first Nebbiolo grapes grown in the USA up in Brookside, Colo. John described himself as a “messy Italian” and his rustic wines reflected that trait.

From his arrival to the Manhattan Project in early 1943, he always had a batch of home brew going. When he moved to his new home in Pajarito Acres, he planted one of the first vinifera vineyards in Northern New Mexico on his front property. With John Lilley, he planted a much larger vineyard in nearby San Ysidro.

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