Panel of M.D.-Winemakers Say Wine and Health Message Still “Bottled-Up”

M.D. Winemakers Speak Up  (RealAudio Player Required)

An international panel of eminent medical doctors, who are also accomplished winemakers, had a lot to say Friday, December 3 at a sold-out Commonwealth Club, about the healthfulness of wine, alcohol’s misuse and abuse, and how the full message of moderate consumption’s benefits have yet to be aired in the main-stream media.

Moderator Gene Ford, the author of The Science of Healthy Drinking, said in his opening address that a recent Gallup poll showed “74% of Americans still believe that alcohol has either little to no, or even a negative effect on health.”

Eight doctors made-up the panel: Dr. F. Wells Shoemaker: Pediatrician and owner of Salamandre Wine Cellars, Aptos; Dr. Thomas Fogarty: professor of surgery at Stanford University Medical Center, and owner of Thomas Fogarty Winery, Santa Cruz; Dr. Philip Norrie: Family Practitioner and owner of Pendarves Estate, Hunter Valley, Australia; Dr. Ellen Mack: Neurologist and co-owner of Russian Hill Winery, Russian River Valley; Dr. Donald Olson: Neurosurgeon and owner of Torii Mor Winery, Willamette Valley, Oregon; Dr. Joseph Gunselman: Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and owner of Robert Karl Cellars, Columbia Valley, WA; Dr. Charles Thomas: ObGyn, owner Chateau Thomas Winery, Plainfield Indiana; and Dr. Alfred deLorimier: Pediatric surgeon and owner deLorimier Winery.

Among the issues they discussed were:

  • Medicinal history (“Wine is the most documented medicine in history.”óDr. Philip Norrie)
  • Cardiovascular benefits (“Elements from grape skin extract relax blood vessels, decrease blood clotting and create a blood pressure lowering effect.”óDr. Thomas Fogarty)
  • The educational system (“Schools are missing an essential discussion on alcohol and drugs, and what the limits are.”óDr. Alfred deLorimier)
  • Antioxidants (“Alcohol antioxidants are many times more effective than food antioxidants.”óDr. Charles Thomas)
  • Diabetes (“There’s a 33-59% reduction of risk of early onset diabetes, in an at-risk population, with 1-3 glasses of wine a-day. And for people with diabetes (1-3 glasses of wine per-day) substantially lowers the risk of the onset of cardiovascular disease.”óDr. Donald Olson)

  • But one of the hottest topics was governmental obstruction and the anti-alcohol lobby. Gene Ford pointed out that Prohibition took alcohol out of its position in the medical pharmacopoeia; “A year later, the AMA removed it from all medical education.” Dr. Donald Olson recalled being forced by federal regulators to change the aphoristic “make glad the heart with wine” on his label because of its apparent “health statement.” And Dr. Ellen Mack said that in the early-‘60s the famous V.A. Framingham Study found that alcohol was a major risk-reducer for heart disease, but suppressed it.

    After the forum there was a tasting of each of the panelist’s wines.

    For more information, an event program, a taped transcript, or a review copy of The Science of Healthy Drinking, call Bryan Imelli at (650) 866-3020 ext. 22 or email

  • Read the press release, November 19, 2004 (Pre-Event)
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