Sonoma County, California, USA
Heidi and Ted Lemon are behind this family run winery which was created in 1993. Ted began his career in Burgundy after earning an oenology degree at the Université de Dijon in 1981. He has worked for some top Burgundian estates, such as Roumier, Bruno Clair, Aubert de Villaine and Domaine Dujac. Ted's skills earned him a position as winemaker and vineyard manager at Domaine Guy Roulot in Meursault, being the first American ever to do so in Burgundy! His winemaking prowess also earned him the affectionate nickname ‘Le Comte Citron’ – the crowned lemon on all of the Littorai bottles are a reference to this. Heidi's path to farming was inspired by living and working in Germany following college and her subsequent work at several wineries in California, including Robert Long Vineyards and Stag's Leap Wine Cellars.
In 1992, the Lemons set out to look for the best spot to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which they believe is along the littoral (coastal) zones of the continent. They finally found their spot in the 'true' north coast of California - the coastal mountains of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. The varied soils and moderate climate with cooling fog provide the ideal environment to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The majority of the sites are farmed biodynamically and all sites are farmed using only organic materials. Littorai does not use certification systems. Having thoroughly studied the works of Rudolf Steiner, who believed in individual responsibility as part of the biodynamic philosophy, Ted finds it hard to reconcile the fact that becoming certified would involve conceding some of his responsibility to external auditors, who cannot know and understand the sites as he does.
We have focused on their Sonoma Coast and Anderson Valley wines, as the cool climate in these beautiful parts of California gives wines of superb elegance. We have two new additions this year: ‘The Haven Vineyard’ Chenin Blanc and ‘Les Larmes’ Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. The Haven is one of Littorai’s original Estate vineyards. The Chenin Blanc which grows here is among the last fruit to be harvested, given its altitude of 365 metres. The wine was fermented dry in stainless steel and aged on its lees for just under 18 months before bottling. It has lovely, concentrated flavours of white peaches, stone fruit, lanolin and wet wool. The ‘Les Larmes’ Pinot Noir is made from declassified fruit and press wine from Littorai’s single vineyard wines in the Anderson Valley. It was made using 30% whole bunch and was aged for ten months in 15% new French oak. The resulting wine has a brooding intensity with concentrated flavours of red plum, raspberry, cranberry and earth, supported by velvety tannins and lifted acidity.