LITTORAI (lit’tōr’ī): a plural derivative of the Latin world Litor, which means the coasts.
Just as enchanting as the winery’s namesake, is the bucolic setting of Ted and Heidi Lemon’s Littorai Wines nestled in the far reaches between Sebastopol and Freestone. Ted’s love of Burgundian-style wines began almost 40 years ago when he apprenticed at several famous Old World wine estates in France and studied enology at the Université de Bourgogne. As an accomplished young winemaker, he was the first American hired to manage Domaine Guy Roulot in Mersault, France. Fast forward to today, where Littorai’s single vineyard wines are internationally distributed in 14 countries and grace the wine lists of top restaurants nationwide.
This 30-acre farm is modeled on the 1920’s Philosopher/Scientist Rudolf Steiner’s vision of an integrated farm, combining a holistic, biodynamic approach to farming. Over half of the property is dedicated as open rangeland for the resident grazing cows, sheep and chickens. Organic legumes, edible flowers and cereals are cultivated and composted, and eventually formulated into natural tea sprays for the vines. Bees and insects are welcomed as no pesticides or fertilizers are used at Littorai.
On three acres, The Pivot Vineyard Pinot Noir, is the estate’s only vineyard. The remaining acreage is cloaked in Redwood trees and dotted with meandering streams and wildlife. Grapes for Chardonnay and other single vineyard Pinot Noir are sourced from the coastal mountains of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, hence the name Littorai.
What makes a Littorai Pinot Noir from one coast different from the other? In short, a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir tends to have a more tannic structure, with spice tones (peppers, savory, sage, marjoram) while the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is associated with lush fruit, blackberry, raspberry and plum. Yet, the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir combines the best of the tannins from the Sonoma Coast and the darker fruits of the Russian River Valley.
Keeping with the “green building” theme, Littorai’s winery is constructed of hay bale walls, which provide consistent insulation and temperature control in the cellar. Solar panels minimize the electric costs, and all excess water used in the winemaking process is recycled back into the vineyard. The winery is also designed for wine movement via gravity flow, to avoid the use of pumps.
Vineyard tours and tastings are by appointment only, and well worth the inside look at how biodynamic farming produces some of the finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Russian River Valley. www.littorai.com