Grand Opening at the Octagon Barn

Join the Wine History Project as they celebrate the grand opening of the renovated Octagon Barn in San Luis Obispo on Saturday September 21st from 11 am to 5 pm.  The Wine History Project will host a booth with featured collections and will be pouring wines from Saucelito Canyon Vineyard & Winery.  The free event features an art show, dairy education, food trucks, face painting & kids activities. There will also be a ticketed concert with music by The Shawn Clark Family Band beginning at 5pm. Tickets are just $15, with all proceeds benefiting the Land Conservancy.  Click here for more information.

Food History Project & Wine History Project Join Together
The Wine History Project and the Food History Project will be joining forces to honor local chefs, winemakers, growers and vintners alike.  This partnership of food and wine will now be presented by the Wine History Project and will offer more extensive lectures, agricultural field trips and conversations with local cookbook authors.

The Wine History Project is seeking donations of local cookbooks to archive with their growing library of wine related books. This collection is being cataloged and is available to their members for their own personal use and research. Please contact for more information and to share your local cookbook to be added to the archives.

Prohibition Exhibit: Call for Family Stories
The Wine History Project is currently working on an exhibit to highlight San Luis Obispo’s history of prohibition.  Their  historians are looking to interview families and collect stories relating to Prohibition. They are also looking for tools, instruments or equipment to add to their expanding collection of items from Prohibition. The Wine History Project will be launching multiple exhibits throughout the county including a film on Prohibition in the winter of 2019-2020.

Featured Wine History Project Legend, In Memoriam: Benito Dusi (January 2, 1933-July 17, 2019)

Wine History Project

Benito Dusi was born on January 2, 1933 just as Prohibition was ending. His life and career spanned an important era of California Wine History from 1933 to 2019. During his lifetime, California experienced a rebirth and developed into one of the most important winemaking regions in the world. Benito was a legendary figure in the rebirth of the California wine industry.  Old vine, dry farmed Zinfandel grapes grown by Benito in San Luis Obispo County were known for their quality. Benito’s old vines were discovered by David Bennion, Founder of Ridge Vineyards. Ridge Vineyards purchased over 95% of Benito’s annual harvest from 1968 to the present. The impact of this relationship on California wine history moved Zinfandel wine from the jug to the elite bottles of Ridge with a label designating Dusi Vineyards in Paso Robles as the source of the grapes. The Zinfandel vines were planted by Benito’s parents in 1926 and 1927 on this property, now located just east of Highway 101 in Paso Robles. Benito grew up in this vineyard, working with his family to care for the vineyards, harvest and sell the grapes. He lived on the property from the time he was 6 until his death on July 17, 2019. Although he worked in other industries, he devoted himself to growing dry farmed, head-pruned Zinfandel grapes.

Wine History Project

Benito was a beloved member of the Dusi family, the youngest of the three Dusi brothers, and a member of the second generation of the famous grape growing family. This is the only family of growers in San Luis Obispo County that has five generations raising and harvesting grapes. Only two members of the family have made wine commercially – Benito in the 1950s and his grandniece, Janell in the 21st Century.

Benito was a grower, a winemaker and a mentor to many in the wine industry. He had a soft spot in his heart for home winemakers, always saving some of his Zinfandel harvest to sell to them. Many of those home winemakers later established their own wineries in San Luis Obispo County. Benito mentored them and enjoyed sharing their stories and their wines.

Benito died on July 17, 2019. He will be remembered as Legend who shaped the history of Zinfandel in California and as the remarkable, kind man who brought happiness and knowledge to so many. The Benito Dusi Vineyards have many more harvests ahead and will remain in the Dusi family.

A documentary celebrating Benito Dusi’s life will be released by the Wine History Project of San Luis Obispo County in the fall of 2019.  Please visit the website at for more information about Benito and the Dusi Family.


Dusi Family Zinfandel Grape Growers Exhibit: The Wine History Project has posted two educational panels featuring the Dusi family’s five generations of grape growing and farming in Paso Robles.  The exhibit also features the history of the Dusi family, which began with Sylvester and Caterina Dusi emigrating to the United States from their villages, Ono Degno and Casto, in northern Italy in the early 20th Century.

The exhibit is available to view at the J Dusi Tasting Room, open daily from 11am-5pm and located at 1401 California 46 West in Paso Robles.  Click here to learn more about the Dusi Family.

Wine History ProjectMysteries & Characteristics of Zinfandel: Exhibit at Saucelito Canyon Winery: The Wine History Project has posted two new educational panels at the Saucelito Canyon Winery Tasting Room in Edna Valley. The first panel, Mysteries of Zinfandel, uncovers the origins of Zinfandel, which have remained a mystery for hundreds of years. The exhibit also shows the journey of the Zinfandel Grape to San Luis Obispo County, and how it has become the Heritage Grape of the Golden State. The second panel features the characteristics of Zinfandel and vineyard, growing and pruning information as well as many other additional facts about California’s Heritage grape.

The exhibit is available for you to visit at Saucelito Canyon Tasting Room, located at 3080 Biddle Ranch Road in San Luis Obispo.  The tasting room is open daily from 10am-5pm.

40 Years of Winemaking: Eberle Firsts Exhibit at Eberle Winery in Paso Robles: The Wine History Project has launched a new exhibit featuring Gary Eberle and 40 years of winemaking at Eberle Winery in Paso Robles.  Gary Eberle has played a major role in helping shape the history of the Paso Robles winegrowing region, and is considered a visionary within the industry.

Also featured on the website is a series of short films titled, San Luis Obispo County Wine Legends Series: The Legacy of Gary Eberle. The films feature in-depth interviews with Gary Eberle and pioneers of the Paso Robles region including Ian McPhee, Howie Steinbeck, Tom Myers, Larry Shupnick and Tobin James.  The exhibit is now open at Eberle Tasting room, located at 3810 California 46 East in Paso Robles.

Wine History Project

Seeking Gold, Finding Grapes Exhibit in Paso Robles: The Wine History Project’s new exhibit, Seeking Gold, Finding Grapes, is on display at the El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society in Paso Robles now through September 2019.  The display features a collection of rare bottles and tools from the California Gold Rush Era.

The El Paso de Robles Area Historical Society is located in the Carnegie Library, City Park, downtown Paso Robles, California. Open Tuesday & Thursday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Closed Monday & Wednesday and major holidays.


Wine History ProjectYankee No. 7 Bar-mounted Cork Puller and Re-Corker, circa 1910: The Wine History Project Collection has acquired a Yankee No. 7 bar-mounted cork puller and re-corker with a plate advertising Nathan Dohrmann Company, San Francisco.

During the 1800s, ciders and beers were popular and were bottled and sealed by corks. Bottled beer in Public Houses (bars, taverns, saloons) required a faster, simpler method of removing corks, and many bottles need to be uncorked at the same time. This led to inventors proposing new patents at a rapid rate. Many inventors tried to create the perfect mounted cork extractor.

You can read more about the Yankee No. 7 cork puller and re-corker in their recent post to the website, written by Collections Manager Cindy Lambert.  Click here to view the complete article.

About the Wine History Project

The Wine History Project was established in 2015 to study the land, microclimates, grape varietals, growers and winemakers who have shaped the wine history of San Luis Obispo County. Today the Wine History Project is staffed by historians and museum professionals who collaborate with a diverse group of advisers and founders. They continue to document and preserve the unique wine and food history of San Luis Obispo County.

Central to their research is the process of interviewing growers and winemakers who have shaped the wine history of SLO County. It is through these relationships that they build upon the story of wine in this county while collecting and archiving historical photographs, documents, videography and recordings to preserve their history.