Joseph Victor Formica

July 3, 1929August 14, 2020

FORMICA, Joseph Victor, 91, of Richmond, Va., entered eternal life on August 14, 2020, at Capital Caring Halquist Center hospice in Arlington, Va. Joe was born in 1929 on the Lower East Side of New York City, the second of three boys of Joseph and Carmella Formica, who both haled from Sicily. Before graduating high school, he enlisted in the army in 1946 and served in Korea. Upon his return he enrolled at Syracuse University under the GI Bill as a WWII veteran, earning a Bachelor and Master of Science. He went on to study at Georgetown University, earning his Doctorate in Microbiology. In the 1950s, Joe worked for the U.S. Chemical Corps at Ft. Detrick in Frederick, Md. There he met Philomena Moretti, whom he married on June 23, 1956, and had two daughters, Diane and Jody.

The family resided in Rockville, Md. until Joe received an opportunity to revitalize the Microbiology Department as Associate Professor at the Medical College of Virginia, now VCU, bringing the family to Richmond in 1969. He is Professor Emeritus to this day. A sabbatical in ’74 took the family to California and nurtured what would become Joe’s lifelong passion for wine. He taught a Wine Appreciation course through VCU’s College of Continuing Education and began The Wine School in Carytown. Joe joined the Society of Wine Educators in 1977 and served as VP, President and Chairman of the Board of Examiners, where he created the “CWE” Certification and established academic standards for the Society.

Joe was also fortunate to go on sabbatical in ’81 where he was a visiting scientist at Cambridge University’s Jesus College. While in England, Joe caught the travel bug.

Back in the US, he taught wine appreciation at the Culinary School of J. Sargent Reynolds Community College from 1992–2007. He was also continually active in the Richmond Wine Society, where he is Director Emeritus. He helped build the now renown society, hosting and attending many meetings and tastings. Most memorable were times where he combined his wine and travel passions to take fellow wine aficionados on wine tours around Europe that he planned and guided from 1993–2013.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Philomena; and older brother, Dominick. He is survived by his children, Diane (Mark), and Jody (Bill); his younger brother, Sal (Jacquelyn); and many nieces and nephews. Joe will be missed by his family, friends, and everyone touched by his generosity and easy smile. Service information is below. Parking is available in church parking lot or nearby.


  • Memorial Mass

    Friday, September 25, 2020


Joseph Victor Formica

have a memory or condolence to add?

Leslie Roman-Williams

September 27, 2020

What a special serendipity it was to be Lector at the Mass today at St. Peter's which honored this dear couple. They sat in front of us on Sundays and we were always charmed and delighted by their spirit, humor, brilliance and elegance. Lovely Philomena with her pageboy hair and bright smile and handsome Joseph were the epitome of an older couple to emulate. We missed them at Mass for a long time prior to their passing and know now they are heavenly traveling, enjoying wine and eternal life together. So glad I was able to meet Jody and Diane today and to see the lovely white calla lilies and other flowers lovingly placed on the altar!

Pat Raffaele

September 1, 2020

Diane and Mark and Family

So sorry for your loss. Diane you look just like your dad, same eyes.

All of our prayers to you and your family at this time


Joy Huddleston

August 30, 2020

Dear, dear Joe,
Although I did not have the pleasure to know you until the last year of your life, I felt as if I had known you for years. I so enjoyed spending hours with you, reliving memories and hearing your stories. You often said you had a great life and I was delighted to be a small part of it. I will miss you but I know you had to go … to meet Phil … I am sure she was there to meet you at the Pearly Gates. Love to you, Jody, Diane and your “baby brother” Sal.
Joy Huddleston


August 18, 2020

Happy memories of growing up in Woodhaven. Although we did not have much contact, I remember you as Sal's older brother and the good things you did to have a successful career...Sal was so proud of you and your work. Rest in peace. Condolences to your family from my family.

Franca De Cristofaro

August 18, 2020

My American you Joe from here to the moon and back!
Ciao e salute

Jean Mccarthy

August 18, 2020

May angels sing you to heaven, Joe.

So many wonderful memories following Joe all over Italy, Sicily, Spain, France, Alsace Lorraine, Austria, etc. in search of the perfect wine. We learned, laughed, dined, and loved the world on our travels. Joe took us places and gave us opportunities that were beyond measure.

Those were the days...

I will miss you and Philomena forever, but take heart knowing that you are at God's table now.

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