Janell Dusi

Janell Dusi

J Dusi Wines (Head Winemaker & Owner)

Bringing J Dusi into the public realm of the wine industry has been a life-long dream for Janell Dusi. The Dusi family ran the original “Dusi Winery” in the 1950s, making their mark in Paso Robles, and her family implemented the farming practices of head-pruned vines and dry farming (i.e., no irrigation). Many decades later, the Dusi family carries on its farming traditions.

Janell grew up living in the midst of a vineyard, participating in grape farming, and begging her grandfather to teach her the winemaking process. Her persistence led to a first vintage at age 12, when she purchased a 15-gallon barrel, a clean trashcan, and some cheesecloth. She and her grandfather then spent hours every day looking at the fermenting grapes in the trashcan while he explained what was happening in the bubbling must. The next year, she entered the wine in an amateur winemakers contest and took away a pink ribbon that still hangs in her tasting room.

For each harvest after 1996, Janell made one 59-gallon barrel of Zinfandel wine, and each year’s product raised different questions – about high sugar content, too much juice and different elements that made her turn to friends in the wine industry for help and support. She visited the University of California, Davis, while still in high school and thought about enrolling to major in Enology. But when she subsequently toured the campus at the University of California, Santa Barbara, she decided to enroll there, even though it had no major in winemaking. Nevertheless, she returned to Templeton each fall to participate in harvest and continued to make wine in a friend’s Santa Barbara garage.

Janell graduated from Santa Barbara in 2002 with a major in Global and International Studies and left the U.S. to travel through Australia, the South Pacific, and South East Asia. Traveling made her appreciate San Luis Obispo, which is where she returned in 2003.

It was not until 2005 that she decided to “go for it!” With the encouragement of people who love homemade wine, and knowing that her dream always was to have her own label and travel the world selling it, she took the leap. Janell founded J. Dusi Wines in 2006 and opened her winery and tasting room in Paso Robles in 2013. Although she focuses on crafting Zinfandels, she also produces varietals such as Pinot Gris and Petite Sirah, as well as red blends, grappa, and port, among others, some of which are under her Paper Street label, which she started in 2016.