The Titus Story
The documented history of the property extends back to 1841 and includes General Marino Vallejo, Dr. Edward Bale, Charles Krug, and Eli York, just to name a few. The land has been continuously farmed for over 150 years, with the Titus family’s first harvest in 1969. Dr. Lee Titus, a Radiologist, practicing in Sonoma at the time, purchased the land in 1968 and soon after, took over farming the vineyard. The evolution of wine production in Napa was moving towards those varietals - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot - and to further emulate the Bordeaux region, Lee oversaw planting all five of the classic varietals as the old vineyards were being replanted. And so, Titus Vineyards began; bringing together the traditional grapes of Bordeaux in a New World site marked the beginning of the family wine venture.
Dr. Titus and his family came to California from Minnesota during the Great Depression. After graduating from Fresno State and serving in World War II, Lee attended medical school and became a radiologist. Meanwhile, Ruth Traverso was growing up in San Francisco's North Beach, where her parents, immigrants from the Piemonte region of Italy, were involved in the family's bakery business. During family vacations in Calistoga, Ruth helped friends harvest their grapes, giving her a love for Napa Valley and a kinship with grape farming.
Years later, having fallen in love, married and settled in the town of Sonoma with their four sons, Lee and Ruth began acquiring fifty acres in three separate parcels just north of St. Helena on the valley floor. Life in 1960's Napa Valley was much simpler than it is today. California's wine industry had yet to achieve its enormous potential, and the land was still affordable for the right purchaser. The vineyard Lee and Ruth Titus acquired in 1968 were originally planted to long-forgotten varietals like Mondeuce, Burger, and Golden Chasselas; alongside were well-known varietals like Pinot Noir, which was poorly suited to the warm, up-valley microclimate. The vineyard needed a change.
In 1972 the Titus’ were able to acquire another small, 10-acre vineyard on Ehlers Lane just a half-mile north of their Ranch vineyard. Replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot on dense, rocky volcanic soils, the vines of the Ehlers Estate Vineyard yield a different expression of Cabernet fruit. Eventually, the brothers were able to produce two distinctly different Cabernets from their Ranch and Ehlers Estate vineyards.
It would be more than twenty years before their sons crushed fruit for the production of the first Titus Vineyards wines in 1990. Although they hoped to one day build a family operated winery, Lee and Ruth spent those interim years raising their sons and growing grapes for other wineries, including Charles Krug, Beaulieu Vineyards, Cuvaison, Quail Ridge, and Pine Ridge. Ultimately, they left the creation of Titus Vineyards wines up to their sons: Phillip now works as Director of Winemaking for Titus Vineyards, while Eric manages the winery and vineyards
Consistent with the modern trends of farming in Napa Valley our winegrowing practices have evolved with our understanding of our site. The Titus Vineyards low-intensity approach is based on techniques that avoid pesticides, biocides, unnecessary fertilization - and encourages cover crops, beneficial native species, and
soil health. We believe that high-quality fruit begins with carefully matching the proper rootstock and variety to the particular soil of each vineyard block. Young vines are patiently trained into maturity, with little emphasis on fruit load in the early years. The yield of mature vines are kept moderate at approximately seven pounds per vine for full flavor development and even ripening. Precise hand-work of ‘crown’ weeding, shoot and leaf thinning, cluster shaping, and selective harvesting all aid the production of the most expressive fruit possible.
The contemporary winery is designed solely for the crafting of Titus wines, allowing for complete control over every aspect of winemaking. With a founding vision that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts all of our wines are meticulously blended. The myriad decisions of blending provide the opportunity to fine-tune every vintage. This is the cornerstone of our winemaking philosophy. We believe the artful blending of varietals creates a more complete wine with superior expression of the grape variety, vintage, and region.
At the helm of today’s operations, Eric Titus and Phillip Titus place the utmost importance on responsible, sustainable farming practices that will enable the site to continue to produce world-class, Napa Valley wines for generations to come. It is a vision 50 years in the making!