Categorized | California, General

TITUS VINEYARDS

 

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Eric Titus                                                                                     The Wines

                                                                                                                                    

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Christophe Smith                                     Vineyard                                             Buds

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The Windmill                                                                          Olive Trees

 

Titus Vineyards,  www.titusvineyards.comare located right outside the picturesque town of St. Helena among 40 acres of historic vineyards in Napa Valley along the Silverado Trail.

When the Titus story began, life in Napa Valley was simpler than it is today, and California’s wine industry had yet to achieve its enormous potential. The vineyard Lee and Ruth Titus acquired in 1967 was planted to Mondeuce, Burger, and Golden Chasselas, varietals all but forgotten today, but prevalent before the emphasis in Napa Valley evolved from quantity to quality and from generic to varietal wines. Also grown were ringers like Pinot Noir, poorly suited to our warm, up-valley microclimate.

Now that we have over thirty years experience working the land, our vineyard is supported with disease resistant rootstock, planted to clones and varietals tuned to fit our vineyards’ terrior, and farmed with a single purpose: to produce excellent quality wines rivaling the best in the world. Lee loved what was happening in Bordeaux at the time and decided those were the grape varieties he wanted to plant. And so it began, with Lee holding a book on Bordeaux in one hand and planting grapevines with the other saying, "you boys are going to need this some day." At that time, planting Malbec and Petit Verdot for example, was relatively unheard of and probably considered risky. Now, Phillip and Eric absolutely appreciate their father’s foresight.

Lee Titus and his family came to California from Minnesota during the Depression. After graduating from Fresno State and serving in World War II, Lee attended medical school and became a radiologist. Meanwhile, Ruth Traverso grew up in San Francisco’s North Beach, where her parents, immigrants from the Piemonte region of Italy, were involved in the family bakery business. During family vacations in Calistoga, Ruth helped friends harvest their grapes, giving her a love for Napa Valley and a kinship with grape farming.

Years later, having fallen in love, married and settled in the town of Sonoma with their four sons, Lee and Ruth began acquiring fifty acres in three separate parcels just north of St. Helena along the valley floor. Although they hoped one day to build a family operated winery, it would be more than twenty years before they crushed fruit for production of Titus Vineyards wines. Lee and Ruth spent those years raising their sons and producing grapes for other wineries, including Charles Krug, Beaulieu Vineyards, Quail Ridge, and Pine Ridge.

Ultimately, Lee and Ruth left the creation of Titus Vineyards wines up to their sons: Phillip works as winemaker for Titus Vineyards, while Eric manages the business and vineyards. Peter and Paul are now pursuing careers in horticulture and anthropology, respectively.

Titus Vineyards places equal importance on both our viticulture and winemaking practices embracing the belief that it takes great grapes to make great wine and emphasizes the partnership between brothers.

In addition to our portfolio being exclusively red wines, all of our wines are blends. This is the cornerstone of our winemaking philosophy. We believe blending varietals completes a wine offering a superior expression of the primary grape variety, vintage, vineyard and region. This blending philosophy has become our hallmark of style, and influences our approach to every wine we make.

Eric’s viticulture approach is based on low-intensity farming techniques that avoid pesticides, biocides and unnecessary fertilization. Eric believes that production of high-quality fruit begins with carefully matching the proper rootstock and variety to the particular soil of each vineyard block. The young vines are patiently trained into maturity, with little emphasis on fruit load in the early years. In mature vines, yields are kept moderate in order to maximize the evenness and rate of ripening. Shoot thinning, fruit load reduction, selective irrigation and canopy management all aid in optimizing fruit quality.

Following harvest, the grapes are de-stemmed only, rather than crushed, leaving a higher percentage of whole berries in the fermenter. This method allows Phillip increased control over tannin extraction and prevents the seeds from breaking and releasing harshness into the wine. A 48-hour cold soak is followed by high fermentation temperatures and long pump-overs with the goal of extracting as much color, flavor and structure as possible without over-extracting tannins. Grapes stay on the skins for 10-20 days before pressing. Once pressed, Phillip keeps the free run and press wine separate to evaluate the quality of each, with press wine rarely blended back into the free run. The resulting wines are aged in barrels for up to 2 years at 58 F, allowing them to mature and develop gracefully.

Their current releases consist of 2008 Sauvignon Blanc;  2007 Zinfandel;  2006 Cabernet Sauvignon;   2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon;  2007 Merlot;  2007 Cabernet  Franc;  2007 Petite Sirah;  2006 Lot 1, they also make a Chardonnay which is sold out. 

We got the chance to sit down with Christophe Smith, who is Titus’s Sales Manager and produces Titus TV, a video blog and  sample some of their wines, starting with the  Sauvignon Blanc which was light and crisp, the Zinfandel was full bodied with dark fruit and spice,  the Merlot was elegant, the Cab is a Bordeaux style and was very good, the Petite Sirah was black in color and bold, the Cab Franc was stylish, and the Lot 1 was delicious.   They are a appointment only vineyard, a no frills kind of operation, sit on the picnic table among the vines and enjoy some great wine, worth seeking out in you are visiting Napa Valley.

2 Responses to “TITUS VINEYARDS”

  1. Christophe says:

    Cheers! Good times. Thanks for the post. I look forward to the next time you are out. – Christophe

  2. That’s a very interesting point of view. I didn’t know about it. Keep developing your site, bravo ;)

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