Readers of my posts know that I am a big fan of Paso Robles. We started coming here a long time ago, back when there were maybe thirteen or so tasting rooms. Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of changes and tasted a lot of great wine, especially Zinfandel.
Still, with all the Zinfandel we have had from Paso, there is one name that sums up to me what Paso Zin is all about – Dusi.
This is in no way meant to downplay the other great vineyards in Paso Robles. There are many incredible ones. But there are certain vineyards that, to me, really represent the region they are in – in Santa Barbara County, I think of Bien Nacido; Monterey County – Pisoni; Sonoma – Monte Rosso. And, for Paso, I think of Dusi.
There are actually two Dusi Vineyards, planted decades ago. Historically, Dusi grapes have been sold to other wineries, and invariably the wines produced from these grapes tend to be among my favorites. For example, we are huge Turley fans, and highlights of our trips to Paso are our visits to the Turley winery to pick up our allocations. We enjoy all the wines Turley produces, but we always end up saying our favorite was the Dusi. And this is our usual reaction whenever a winery produces a Dusi bottling.
Earlier this year, we attended a Paso Robles tasting that was being held in Santa Monica. One of the highlights of this tasting was meeting Janell Dusi, granddaughter of Dante Dusi and learning that she was now producing a small amount of wine from the family vineyard. We tasted many great wines that evening, but the highlight was meeting Janell, tasting her Zinfandel, and talking to her about the vineyard.
I asked Janell for some more information for this article, and she kindly responded:
“The original homestead vineyard was planted in 1923 with zinfandel by Sylvester Dusi on the east side of Highway 101….. This is now Benito Dusi’s ranch
In 1945, Sylvester bought and planted the 100 acres on the west side of Highway 101 which is now Dante Dusi Vineyard where I live.
Sylvester left the vineyards to his two sons; Dante and Benito. His oldest son Guido lived in Paso Robles.
So, yes there are two vineyards, Dante’s and Benito’s. Only the Dante Dusi Vineyard was planted with help from the boys, but Sylvester, their father, is who started the vineyards!”
A day or two after the Santa Monica tasting I ordered some of Janell’s Zins.
Recently, we opened a bottle of the 2006 J. Dusi Zinfandel.
Have you ever attended a tasting or visited a tasting room and had a wine that you absolutely loved, bought some and when drinking it later wondered what all the fuss was about? Maybe it was the ambiance of the event, or maybe your palate was fatigued to the point that everything tasted good.
Fearing that this might be the case, I opened the bottle with some trepidation. Nothing to worry about here. The wine absolutely sang: Paso Robles! Once again, Dusi comes through!