“Greetings! Greetings! Welcome to J. Dusi Tasting Room!” The big dog met us at the entrance with a huge smile and with his tail slapping people out of the way right and left, escorted us right up to the tasting bar. Well, at least I’m sure that was his intention. He got sidetracked by a bit of salami just inside the door.
My friend Shawn and I had gone on a quick weekend trip to Paso Robles and at several of the tasting rooms we heard, “Don’t miss the new J. Dusi winery!”
I’ve always loved wine that has grapes from the Dusi vineyards and we agreed that it was a “must.” So after a full day of visiting wineries, we screeched into the parking lot at 4:30 — half an hour before closing. Even then, the tasting room was crowded. Many of the other tasters were locals who were thrilled with the vision and insight of Janell who is making wines from her great-grandfather’s vineyard.
The people serving behind the tasting bar were happy and friendly (well, gee, who wouldn’t be — you’re pouring wine for people all day long and perhaps sipping some of it yourself — just to make sure it hasn’t gone bad, you understand). As best we could figure out, they were all family. I was particularly pleased to see family dog keeping the floor clean and making himself available for petting. It used to be that most of the old Paso wineries had greeting dogs and cats which added a friendly, homey atmosphere to even the most austere tasting room. But I digress …
Shawn and I both fell in love with the wines and both ended up joining the wine club and buying half a dozen bottles to bring home. As we finally left — they closed the door behind us — we trudged up to Shawn’s car at the top of the parking lot, each carrying a box of Dusi wine. As he stowed it in the back, we saw a trim little white-haired lady trotting up the parking lot behind us.
“Oh, I look like I’m drunk!” she cried out as her foot slipped on a stone.
“No, ma’am,” I called back, “it’s just a steep driveway.”
As she drew alongside, she stopped for a moment. “What did you think of the wines?”
We effused over them and told her how nearly everyone in Paso had told us to stop and tasted there. She beamed.
“Jannel is my granddaughter. I’m Grandma Dusi,” she said with a sweet smile.
Oh my gosh! Paso Robles royalty!
Shawn said “It’s an honor to meet you, ma’am.” I gave her a very gentle hug and wondered if I should curtsy.
“My husband planted those vineyards when we first came to Paso Robles. You know we grow the very best grapes. Janell is doing a good job, isn’t she?”
“Oh, my, yes. Certainly.” Shawn and I both answered at once, tripping over each other’s words.
We chatted a bit, then she headed for her car. “You have a safe trip back to Las Vegas and come back soon,” she called as she got out her keys.
We waved as we drove off. “Wow! Grandma Dusi! We met Grandma Dusi!” Shawn and I high-fived each other. It was better than meeting the first lady.
Paso Robles has changed a lot since I first went there over 10 years ago so I was thrilled to find a local winery that was truly carrying on the tradition of making wines from their own vineyards and where the family itself, including the family dog, worked the tasting room.
Shawn and I smiled all the way home. Wow – we met Grandma Dusi! I’ll drink to that!
If you haven’t already, Please check out my book “Beyond the Spotlight: On the Road with Phyllis Diller,” which is available at Barnes and Noble, and Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Spotlight-Road-Phyllis-Diller/dp/0985972882