The deep roots of Titus Vineyards | Wine

While Titus Vineyards’ new tasting room and cellar are pure 21st century in its open, minimalist style, the cellar’s roots go back 50 years and its vineyards even further – the land has been cultivated for over 150 years. .

Dr. Lee Titus had moved to California during the Great Depression, and after serving in World War II, he attended medical school and majored in radiology. Ruth Titus grew up in North Beach in San Francisco, the daughter of immigrants from the Piedmont region of Italy who owned a bakery. Ruth vacationed with her family in Calistoga where she helped friends harvest grapes and learned to love wine country. They settle in Sonoma and become parents to four boys.

In the 1960s, they decided to find a piece of land in Napa Valley for their family. On Silverado Trail, north of St. Helena, where the valley begins to narrow, they found three parcels for sale, 50 acres at the bottom of the valley. The vines were planted with long-forgotten varietals like Mondeuce, Burger and Golden Chasselas, as well as Pinot Noir, a grape not particularly well suited to the hot climate of the high valleys. They decided to replant and chose the five classic Bordeaux grape varieties. The family business was on the move. Their first harvest dates back to 1969.

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In 1972 they added a 10-acre vineyard on Ehlers Lane, just half a mile north of their ranch vineyard. Replanted with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot on dense, rocky volcanic soils, the vines of the Ehlers Estate vineyard give an entirely different expression of Cabernet fruit than their Ranch vineyards.

Until 1990, the family sold its fruit to vineyards in the valley, Charles Krug, Beaulieu Vineyards, Cuvaison, Quail Ridge and Pine Ridge. It was his sons, Eric and Philip, who took the next step and made wine from their grapes. The next step, in the new century, was the construction of the cellar.

Today, Phillip is the consulting winemaker (winemaker is Stephen Cruzan) and Eric, himself a PhD in biology, manages the winery and vineyards, with a sustainable approach to low-intensity farming, avoiding pesticides, biocides, unnecessary and encouraging cover crops, native species and soil health. Their winemaking practices have evolved with their understanding of their land, the brothers say, and “with a founding vision that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” their wines are meticulously blended. Their vision, in the making for 50 years, now looks to the next 50 years.

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