After completing a degree in French Literature, Ted Lemon travelled to France and studied oenology at the University of Dijon. In 1980, he secured an apprenticeship at the world-famous Domaine Dujac. Later, Ted became the first American to be hired as winemaker and vineyard manager of an estate in Burgundy, managing Domaine Guy Roulot until 1984 when he returned to California.
In 1992, Ted, along with his wife Heidi, founded Littorai by purchasing grapes and making 150 cases each of a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir. They searched the west coast of the U.S. for the best sites and decided the greatest potential lay in the coastal areas of Sonoma and Mendocino counties.
Today, Ted and Heidi farm roughly 42 acres, with about 40% of that estate grown fruit. Disillusioned by conventional farming practices, they decided to convert their vineyards to biodynamics and employ elements of permaculture. Now all vineyards (including those where grapes are purchased) are farmed either biodynamically or organically.
Their winemaking is low intervention – native yeasts, minimal additions, judicious use of oak, no fining or filtering – resulting in balanced and elegant wines that reflect their vineyard sites. The Chardonnay are gently whole cluster pressed and fermented and aged in barrel (20% new oak) for 12 months. The Pinot Noir are fermented with a portion of whole clusters depending on site (generally never exceeding 50%) and are aged for 14-17 months in oak (20-25% new). Aside from their regional bottlings (i.e., Les Larmes Anderson Valley), these are single vineyard wines that are beautifully expressive.
“Littorai wines are among the purest, most long-lasting expressions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the New World.” - Jon Bonné, Author and Wine Writer