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Meet Janell Dusi of J Dusi Wines in San Luis Obispo County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Janell Dusi.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Janell. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I am fourth generation in the grape farming business as my Great Grandparents immigrated from Northern Italy in the early 1900’s. They settled into Paso Robles and planted Zinfandel vines in 1925. After five generations, we have only expanded our vineyards into more acreage and keeping these old vines preserved and cared for. As I grew up on 100 acres of Old Vine Zinfandel, the grapevines were our playground, our livelihood and our way of life. I became obsessed with keeping some of our grapes and turning them into a Dusi wine. I began at a very young age of experimenting with grape fermentation and continued making small batches of homemade wine throughout high school and college. I am a hands-on, labor-intensive farmer’s daughter and learned everything about wine from hand-on experience and working at other wineries.

I created the business of J Dusi Wines in 2005 and began producing wines under my wine label that represented my family Vineyards. We still sell 80% of the grapes that we farm but now I keep about 20% of all the grapes we farm across all of our vineyards. We now have a winery and tasting room right on the main highway through Paso Robles Wine Country. We now produce around 15,000 cases of wine annually and are open to the public daily for wine tasting (currently outside right now!)

My main goal is to showcase my family’s old Vine Vineyards through our wines. My main tagline that is written on the bottles is “A Family Tradition, with A New Perspective” We are still farming the land of our Great Grandparents, now taking the grapes a step further and making wine with my family’s name on it. On any given day, you can stop by the vineyards or winery and there are around three generations.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Well, of course 2020 keep throwing roadblocks! Adapting to the changing regulations can be difficult to navigate right now. Especially while taking the safety of my staff into consideration. AS my business grows, it has been challenging to keep the best staff for the tasks. Knowing that I cannot do everything and delegating has been a learning lesson. This business is named after me and I want to be present ALL of the time, but learning to put the right competent people in positions has been a goal of mine.

Other challenging aspects have been predicting sales and growth. The winemaking process is two years in the making before releasing a new wine. So the forward-thinking and movement have been hard to always nail down perfectly. All the components in making wine are expensive so to have perfect logistics and foresight into sales strategies is crucial.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with J Dusi Wines – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We are known for Old Vine Zinfandel, as these are some of the oldest grapes here in Paso Robles that are still farmed by my family. Many wineries refer visitors to my winery because it is nice to see that they appreciate a family-owned business that has been local in the area for so many generations. Also, that I am a female winemaker. I love what I do and to carry on the family tradition is a stand-out profession for me. AS an owner and winemaker, I have my fingers in everything at J Dusi Wines. But am learning to put very talented people in the right positions to lift us up as a company and I can still make all final decisions. From Farming and harvesting in the vineyards to crushing grapes and pump-overs in the cellar to pouring wines in the tasting room and visiting with customers, traveling the country to sell and promote the winery… I love it all.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I have been contemplating expanding the winery with more than doubling our production facility and space for seating tastings by reservation. After much planning and architects and thinking, have decided I am just so comfortable where my business is right now, that I would hate to add so much more stress in my life. That dealing with our growing pains with what we have is more than ok and fits us just perfectly. But, it felt good to flush out the ideas and options to realize how great we are doing now with what we have now.

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