The Story of Benito Dusi and Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel

Blog Post

March 2020

Ridge lost a longtime friend and business partner last summer, Benito Dusi. He was a grower that we purchased grapes from for over 50 years. As we move forward with producing wines from Benito’s historic vineyard, I thought it was fitting to celebrate his life and share the story of his vineyard and our long-term partnership. Benito’s parents, Sylvester and Catarina Dusi, immigrated to the United States from Italy and ultimately settled in the Paso Robles area in the early 1920s. In 1924 they purchased their vineyard, where they raised their three sons, Guido, Dante, and Benito. When Guido and Dante went to war in 1944, vineyard cultivation was left to their father and young Benito, who was eleven years old at the time.

Benito carefully tended the vines until his passing last July. The vineyard is located three miles south of Paso Robles on the east side of Highway 101. Planted in 1923 (three years into Prohibition!), it sits on alluvial soil washed down from the surrounding limestone hills. Wine from Benito’s vineyard is very much typical of Paso Robles zinfandel: beautiful, mouthwatering fruit with soft, round tannins —very lush and easy to drink. In 1967, Ridge founder Dave Bennion knocked on the Dusi’s front door and asked to buy five tons of grapes from their vineyard. On a handshake, the deal was done, and Ridge has continued to produce a “Benito Dusi” Paso Robles Zinfandel ever since. Current plans for the vineyard are that it will remain in the family. Benito’s nephew, Mike, worked with Benito over the past several years and has taken over the farming. We look forward to working with Mike and making many more outstanding wines from this amazing vineyard. As we release each new vintage, I can’t help but think of Benito with a smile on his face, riding his tractor in the warm Paso Robles sun.

Michael Torino, Senior Vice President of Global Sales