Our Dusi Zinfandel is now bottled and available! Benito Dusi Vineyards is one of the oldest in Paso Robles. It consists of 24 acres planted with Zinfandel vines that are almost 100 years old. They are planted in the "old world" style with a small amounts of Carignane, Petite Sirah, Grenache vines in the mix. The vineyard is run by 89-year-old Benito Dusi who actively manages the vineyard today. The vineyard is dry farmed, which means that it does not have drip irrigation. We are honored to know Benito Dusi and thankful that we are able to buy grapes from him. His vineyard is registered with the Historic Vineyard Society and his zinfandel is preserved as a Heritage Zinfandel Clone. The wine produced by these grapes is incredible and the result is truly the reason we make wine today.
Winemaking has become a passion for us and, looking back on it, starting Arndt Cellars was almost inevitable. No doubt many of our good friends are now sighing an exasperated “finally!” as they read this.
Don and I purchased property in Paso Robles in 2000 with an eye to the distant future towards retirement. At the time, we enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner on the weekends and went wine tasting in Santa Barbara, Temecula and an occasional trip up to Napa/Sonoma. After buying our property we of course spent more time in Paso Robles and learned about the robust but still growing wine industry of the region. We made some very good friends and were fortunate and thankful to be invited to many dinners at the homes of these friends living in Paso Robles. Wine was brought in from boutique wineries of the region as well as wine people made in their barns and garages. We were (and are) fascinated and awed by the handcrafted wines we drank at these fabulous dinner parties.
It didn’t take long for Don to try his hand at winemaking. A good friend shared with Don his coveted Benito Dusi Vineyard grapes and worked side by side with us as we crushed, fermented and barreled down the wine. That wine was so incredible it was impossible not to make wine the next year. And to make more of it.
During those first few years our wines were made in our garage in Long Beach, California. We would often pick the grapes ourselves, crush them in Paso Robles and drive them back to Long Beach the same day, eager to start fermentation. Don would stay up late in the evenings reading as much about wine making and the science behind it as he could.
Soon we were making Benito Dusi Zinfandel every year as well as wine from grapes grown at our good friends’ vineyard, Penman Springs. Over the years Don developed relationships with owners of other incredible vineyards and has now has 11 years of experience working with a variety of grapes from the region.
We moved to Paso Robles in 2006. True to form, Don built a barn himself with the help of family and friends and our "garage wine" became "barn wine". In 2013 a friend drove grapes to our barn and said “make this under bond” and thus began Arndt Cellars.
Although we unfortunately cannot make our commercial wine out of our barn it is still handcrafted and tended to by Don just as he has made wine for the past 11 years. Depending on the grape, we use either American or French oak and either new or a combination new and neutral barrels to achieve the right balance of oak flavor in the wines. Our wine production is and will remain very small.
We hope you are as awed by what we produce as we were when we first discovered fine artisan wine. Cheers!