Norman Charles deLeuze, the founder of Napa Valley’s ZD Wines, has passed away at home after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.
deLeuze dealt with his illness as he did the rest of his life – with a quiet fortitude. His research into non-toxic alternative treatments was widespread and unending.
deLeuze was born in Berkeley, where he attended local schools and grew up working in his father’s grocery store. There, he began developing his unbridled entrepreneurial spirit. After graduating from high school, he joined the U.S. Navy, in which he served as a photographer’s mate during the Korean War. Upon returning home, he earned a degree from Cal-Berkeley in Mechanical Engineering. At the same time, he and his new wife, Rosa Lee, began their family.
Fascinated with the aero-space industry, deLeuze took his first job as an engineer at Aerojet General in Sacramento, where he enjoyed the technical aspects of engineering. In 1969, he and a fellow aerospace engineer decided to try their hand at commercial winemaking. Their hard work evolved into ZD Wines.
The winery became an all-consuming commitment for both partners and their families. In 1978, deLeuze left his full-time job at Optical Coatings Laboratory to operate ZD Wines full-time. His commitment to producing world-class wines built a company recognized for its excellence.
deLeuze took great pride in creating a business which brought his family together, where each member could participate and contribute in their own way. His down-to-earth attitude toward life fit well with the approach he took in winemaking: limited intervention in the cellar, combined with organic vineyard practices.
A man with strong convictions, deLeuze followed his beliefs of a non-toxic approach to health care, eventually building a relationship with the U.C. Davis Oncology Department. He and his family created the “deLeuze Family Endowment for a Non-toxic Cure for Lymphoma.”