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Dusi Duo of Old Vine Zin Vineyards

Old Zinfandel at the Dante Dusi Vineyard near Paso Robles.

Old Vine Zinfandel from the Dusi vineyard near Paso Robles has long been recognized and prized (search on-line for “Dusi Zinfandel” and you’ll find many references and vineyard-designated wines). But there often seems to be some confusion about where these grapes come from, because there are, in fact, two famous Dusi Zinfandel vineyards near Paso Robles, owned by different branches of the same family.

Sylvester and Caterina Dusi settled in Paso Robles in the early twenties. They raised three sons (Guido, Dante, and Benito) on a Zinfandel vineyard in planted in 1924. Guido and Dante went off to fight in World War II, leaving the vineyard cultivation to Sylvester and Benito (who wasn’t old enough to join up).

Benito continued to cultivate that vineyard, located on the slightly flatter, sandier, east side of US Highway 101. Although originally planted in 1924, most of the vines today are in the 50 to 60-year-old range, with some even younger, as the vineyard has gradually been replanted. This Dusi Zinfandel is often referred to as Dusi Ranch or Benito Dusi Vineyard.

Dante Dusi, home from the war, planted Zinfandel on land bordering the moderately rolling west side of US Highway 101, about a mile south of the family’s original ranch. Planted in 1945 and 1946, these gnarled and low-growing, head-trained vines are in their 60s now, and producing memorable old vine wine. This old vine plot, some 85 acres of Zinfandel today, is usually referred to as the Dusi Vineyard or Dante Dusi Vineyard.

Jeff Cox, writing in The Wine News suggests that both “Dante Dusi Vineyard- and Dusi Ranch crafted Zins usually display classic Paso Robles cherry fruit on the palate; the former tend to have more lush, dark fruit character, while the latter are bright and spicy with firm tannins.”

Both these special Dusi vineyards are adjacent to US Highway 101 and are readily recognized. Those stubborn little head-trained grape bushes are distinctive in the Paso Robles landscape.

Posted 23-Mar-2010 by DAH

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