One vineyard that has been in Paso Robles since the early 1900’s is Dusi Vineyard. Dusi Vineyard was started by Italian immigrants Sylvester and Caterina Dusi. They had three sons Guido, Dante and Benito. During these early years, Dusi Vineyards sourced their grapes rather than producing their own wines. The primary grape varietal that was, and still is, their mainstay is Zinfandel. It is not uncommon to see Dusi Vineyards on bottles such as Turley and Tobin James. The Dusi Zinfandel grapes are highly sought after by many local wineries.
Dusi Vineyard has been in the family for three generations. The latest generation has taken a new direction with the youngest family member, Janell Dusi. She wanted to produce wines under their own label. Even though this was a break in family tradition being a loving family they supported her endeavor. The first time I went to a tasting of J. Dusi wines, it was held at the family house and was by appointment only for obvious reasons. During your tasting, you were provided with nuts, fruits and cheeses to accompany the wines being poured, a tradition her mother, Joni, has continued in the tasting room. The Dusi family definitely still makes you feel right at home as if you were a guest in their own home. J. Dusi wines have become so popular that they purchased the Edward Sellars Vineyard and tasting room. Now they are easily accessible for tastings if you are in the Paso Vineyards.
As with many of the wineries, you quickly become aware that you are like part of the family at J. Dusi. Janell’s mother, grandmother as well as close friends pour and mingle with the guests. When you drive onto the tasting room grounds you will see Dante Dusi’s original 1936 International blue pickup truck. Inside of the tasting room and on the patio area you will see Janell and staff attentively tending to happy patrons. I like to sit at a table on the patio where the server will place a barrel stave serving plate with goodies to enjoy while you sample their wines. While you are sampling it is not uncommon for Joni Dusi (mother) or Dorothy Dusi (grandmother) to strike up a conversation with you. I love talking with Janell’s grandmother, the history that she shares on the Paso winery and business of the past is extremely interesting.
Just to give you an idea of the family involvement the winery, Matt & Ali Dusi (Janell’s brother and his wife) work in the tasting room as well. They also own and farm Caterinas vineyard where my favorite Syrah comes from named for Dante’s mother (Janell’s great- grandmother). This family business has definitely stood the test of time and tradition with all of us reaping the benefits.
Janell is another one of those creative souls. Being young and energetic, she leaves no stone unturned when it comes to creativity. Her ventures include Grappa, Port, Syrah, Italian varietal blends, GSM, etc. Her energetic enthusiasm can even be seen on the wine corks used by J. Dusi which include phrases such as “Killed this bottle with ________”. How creative is that! This trip was to celebrate my wife’s birthday so when the Dusi family found out they provided a special treat for the occasion. Once again more evidence of their love for their patrons.
It is the little things like this that sends a message to all that visit the J. Dusi Vineyard, “We are all one big family.” It shows in how special you feel when you walk through their doors.
During our last trip to Paso Janell gave us a barrel sample of a dessert wine that she had created. Well, it reached the stage to be bottled and on this trip we had the honor to sample it as part of our tasting. Wow, talk about thinking outside of the box, what a creative little gem. She is definitely driven to create unique off the wall wines. Paso is lucky to have an energized youth like Janell Dusi creating spectacular new world styles of wine.
I hope that everyone can get the sense that Paso wineries are extremely friendly and down to earth. They give you a sense of joy as you visit the many wineries and taste their wines. This is what Paso is all about. No lines or reservations required to enjoy the one thing that we all have in common, “WE LOVE OUR WINE!” Enjoying it with people that want to be your friend, like J. Dusi, is fantastic, you always feel at home. Follow me to our next destination of wineries on the East side of Paso that also hold this tradition of making you feel at home and part of the family.