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Littorai: Sustainability on California’s north coast

Stephen Brook recently tasted some recent and older vintages from Littoria's range of cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnays.

The first American to work as a winemaker in Burgundy, Littorai’s founder Ted Lemon wanted to pursue old-world restraint and elegance in California when he returned to the USA, and so he and his wife Heidi identified the cool Sonoma and Mendocino Counties as the perfect locations to source grapes for their new project.

A brief history

Ted Lemon was born in 1958, but did not grow up in a wine-steeped environment. However, in 1981 he went to Dijon to study Enology and afterwards decided to stay in Burgundy and find a job as a cellar rat.

A phone call to Roz Seysses at Domaine Dujac proved timely, as her husband Jacques was flat on his back with sciatica. Ted spent that harvest taking tank samples to Seysses and then following his instructions. He followed this with spells of work at some of Burgundy’s other top domaines, including Georges Roumier and Bruno Clair.

A year later Ted returned to Burgundy to act as winemaker at Domaine Roulot, in Meursault, while Jean-Marc Roulot followed an acting career. Ted became the first American winemaker in Burgundy and stayed at Roulot for three years before returning home to the USA, where he spent time working in Napa Valley before founding Littorai in 1992.

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