Head Winemaker at your Angel-funded winery
- Franc Dusak is a rockstar behind the scenes. Over the past decade, he helped some very big names make their 90+ point wines. And now he works at your Angel-funded winery, helping some of your top-rated winemakers carry out their vision.
- It's time that he sees the light of day, gets credit for his winemaking skill, and gets to put HIS name on the label. That's why he's working with Angel-funding to make his own range of delicious wines.
- Franc's always done an impeccable job, and now that his name's on the bottle and his reputation is on the line, his wines are just rocking our world.
Franc Dusak is a third generation winemaker, but the first in his family to make wines from the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. His father and grandfather grew winegrapes and made wine in Slovenia, which they sold under their own brand and through a cooperative while Franc was growing up.
My father made wine, his father made wine, his father probably made wine. You know, not professionally, but they made wine! I liked the idea of keeping their logo as an emblem on my logo.
That emblem is the small “DVK” that links all of Franc’s bottles. It stands for Dusak Vinska Klet (Dusak Wine Cellar) and was the original Dusak family brand. Also included in the emblem is the image of the Triglav, which is an iconic Slovenian mountain with three peaks. To Franc, it’s an easy parallel: the three Triglav peaks and the three winemakers in his lineage. It’s also an easy and elevated way to tie family and heritage together, two things that are exceedingly important to Franc’s winemaking journey.
There was a generational component that pushed me into the industry, and I really love the symbolism of it. I had also drawn this logo probably, what? Twenty years ago? When I first got into the industry, it really resonated with me and kept following me to where I am now.
But how did he first get into the industry?
While he was growing up, there were some hints that he should learn the family trade, but as a teenager, he had other plans. “Waking up at 7 am just wasn’t in the cards. I had plans to go to Europe, and there was some indication that I would end up living there. I just packed my bags and left one day.” It wasn’t until vineyard work presented itself as part of a trip to Germany with friends, they ended up helping to tie vines with apple switches before harvest, that he realized winemaking was going to be his path. There was never a specific bottle that made Franc fall in love with wine. Instead, he fell in love with the work. With showing up every day, getting his hands dirty, and seeing the progress of his efforts by the time the sun set.
He had helped as a child, but for the first time he was allowed to make decisions as a part of the Dusak winemaking team. From that harvest forward, he was dedicated. He took the first “winemaking” job he could get, which was as a cashier in a tasting room.
I was naive! I thought, I’ll get a job up there and just go down to the cellar and voila I’ll be the winemaker.
It was a much twistier path. His time in the tasting room functioned as his formal wine education. While it was slow, during the weekdays, he read every winemaking book he could get his hands on. He finally got a shot to move to the cellar, as a crew member on the bottling line. He worked as hard as he could, until he got the opportunity to move to the rest of the cellar, where he also worked as hard as he could. The pattern continued, and he worked his way into the lab, which parlayed into an assistant winemaker position at another winery, then another, then another, and eventually he got the winemaking position he thought he had scored when he took the initial tasting room job.
I would work insane hours. It was to the point where they would tell me you have to stop. But I didn’t have anything else going on, so it was great for me. I loved the stuff.
His great work ethic was awarded, as great work ethics are, with more work. He became the head winemaker for a large custom-crush facility, where he had the chance to make wine with a roster of brilliant winemakers. Some were crafting 100-point wines with Franc’s help. He was proud of, and really good at, his craft. Then it hit him, “if I stay here, I’m always going to be behind the scenes.”
Enter: Naked Wines
He joined the Naked Wines team in 2013, back when it was a little company with a big dream. At first it was frustrating, but he believed in the business model, in putting the winemaker center stage instead of a fanciful brand thought up by executives. He saw his role grow as the company grew. Today, he’s our Director of Winemaking, helping our roster of winemakers with technical decisions and logistical difficulties, and has his own portfolio of amazing Napa, Sonoma, and Slovenian wines. They’re the product of years of dedication to the craft, meticulous attention to detail, and unwavering commitment to quality; which makes them the perfect thing to pour after a full day’s work.
Talking about his family’s present-day involvement in the wine industry, Franc said, “now my uncle sells his fruit to my cousin’s fiance…” which just goes to show that his grandfather’s passion for wine was felt and honored by more than just Franc. If you ever find yourself in Slovenia, make sure to track down some DVK wine!
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