Coming Home to J Dusi Wines
We hadn’t visited J Dusi in some time, but in our quest to share with our family members what makes Paso Robles special to us, it seemed almost a requirement. After all, the name Dusi is practically synonymous with Paso Robles.
Janell Dusi [the J in J Dusi] has been making wine commercially since the 2006 vintage. But the Dusi vineyard is much older than that, planted in 1945 by her grandfather Dante, who, sadly, passed away late in 2014. Since the vineyard was planted, Dusi Zinfandel has been prized for its distinct full flavors and the grapes have long been sold to discerning wineries such as Turley, Cypher and Tobin James. But no wine was made commercially by the Dusi family until Janell decided it was time to do so. And even though family members had long said that they were growers and not winemakers, when Janell was ready to make that leap her family supported her wholeheartedly.
My wife Karen and I first tasted Janell’s wine [that inaugural 2006 vintage] at a Paso Robles wine country “road show” of sorts held at a hotel in Santa Monica. Pretty sure it was the star of the show that day. It wasn’t long thereafter that we paid a visit to Janell at her parents’ home on the Dante Dusi Vineyard, dragging along some friends to whom we had raved about our new winery discovery. Multiple visits with multiple friends followed, and always the Dusi family has been incredibly welcoming, enthusiastic and gracious.
And I’ve visited a lot of vineyards in my day. Some of them just feel special. Nowhere have I felt this more than at the Dante Dusi Vineyard. There is just such a “sense of place” about it to me.
Janell’s success and an opportunity to acquire a winery on Highway 46 West a couple of years ago has enabled her to expand on her vision. But, even though we were not visiting the family home this time, it still felt like coming home. Janell’s mom Joni welcomed us with open arms before we even got into the tasting room. We knew that Janell was still at the family vineyard and would be joining us shortly, but we couldn’t wait for her; we wanted to start tasting the latest offerings in the tasting room. We tasted…
2014 Pinot Grigio – clean and light; a perfect way to refresh our palates.
2013 Zinfandel from the Dante Dusi vineyard – another zin hit out of the park by Janell; consistently one of my favorite wines.
2012 GSM [Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre] – delicious blend; really noticed the Grenache.
During our visit, Janell finally made it to the tasting room and we continued our tasting with her…
2013 The Don [blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon] – one of the advantages of Janell’s new winery is she gets the freedom to try new things such as this Super Tuscan blend. Admittedly I am not usually a fan of California Sangio but this was an exception to the rule.
2013 Caterina’s Syrah – always a solid bottle from J Dusi.
Not on the tasting list but one I just needed to try [and buy] was the 2013 Petite Sirah. Just one barrel was made of this wine, and the label marked the exact location in the vineyard the grapes came from. A massive wine, but deliciously so. I’d lay this one down for a while.
Finally, a visit to J Dusi would not be complete without tasting Janell’s famous grappa. I’m a fan of grappa, some more than others. Janell’s really allows the zinfandel flavors to shine through.
As we said our goodbyes to Janell and Joni, it really felt like it had been a homecoming. Even though I miss the vineyard [which I hope to visit again one day soon], home is more about the people than the place anyway, right?
J Dusi Wines
1401 Hwy. 46 West
Paso Robles, CA 93446
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. Michael is also Vice President of Eve Bushman Consulting (fka Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting) http://evebushmanconsulting.com/ and President of MCP Financial. Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com