Titus Vineyards Review
Address: 2971 Silverado Trail North St. Helena,California 94574.
Phone Number: 707-963-3235
Tasting Hours: By appt. Wed-Mon 10:00-3:30
Region: Napa Valley AVA, St. Helena AVA, California
Reviewer: Mark and Sonja
Review Date: 3/7/2016
Reviewer: Mark and Sonja
My wife became pregnant during the winter of 2014, and in September of the following year, little Titus was born. Somewhere between those two points in time, I discovered something that interested me greatly: One of the most outstanding Cabernet Sauvignons on the market, then and now, shared the name we intended to give to our son. I had to know more, and immediately thereafter I visited their web page. By July, I was calling the winery, asking about purchasing large format bottles of their wine in the 2015 vintage to stow away for my unborn son. By October, after he was born, we were toasting him around the dinner table with glasses full of Titus Cab. And then, this past March, Sonja and I took a vacation to California wine country, returning to the scene of our honeymoon for the first time in two years, and we prioritized an afternoon at Titus Vineyards.
Up-valley on the famous Silverado Trail that traces the more heavily-trafficked Highway 29 to the east, Titus Vineyards is housed in a tasteful monument to modern industrial architecture. Metric tons of exposed concrete, enormous sliding glass walls, and beautiful wooden cross beams create an ambiance that is both intriguing and inviting. As inviting as the structure itself is Mike Desilets, the tasting room manager. A veteran of the Napa Valley wine industry for multiple decades, Mike has found a home at the quiet tasting room of Titus Vineyards, pouring world-class wines to no more than forty visitors a day and making them feel welcome with his charming personality and extensive knowledge of not only the winery for which he works but also the valley in which he resides.
Mikes employers are Phillip and Eric Titus, sons of Lee and Ruth Titus, who in 1968 acquired a Napa Valley vineyard before it was the hip thing to do. Lee replanted his vineyard with Bordeaux varieties, and today the brothers operate Titus Vineyards in that location. Phillip, who Mike informed us on our visit is also the winemaker for the prestigious Chappellet Winery also located in the Napa Valley, crafts the wines that bear their family name, while Eric tends the vines and focuses his attention on the business end of things. Together they make a great team, as evidenced by their success, and by the incredible wines they share with visitors like us.
The tasting experience for those who visit is one of the more enjoyable that Sonja and I have shared. As Titus Vineyards can, by license, see only a few dozen visitors a day it is advisable to make arrangements in advance. We did, and for much of our visit had the tasting room all to ourselves. Seated at a table adorned with large chunks of obsidian from their vineyards, a volcanic remnant left over from the days when the valley was still young, we enjoyed a flight of some of the best wines we tasted during our entire stay in Napa. Mike brought bottle after bottle to our table, beginning with a delightfully crisp Sauvignon Blanc and working through a red portfolio that included those Bordeaux varietals planted by the patriarch Lee Titus: Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and, of course, their signature Cabernet Sauvignon, in addition to Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. He knowledgeably describing each wine by its varietal and vintage and the distinguishing characteristics that resulted from Erics labor in the vineyards and Phillips efforts while in the barrels. While all of this was going on, Sonja and I chatted casually, thoroughly enjoying ourselves yet missing our tiny son a little bit, as he had remained back in Nebraska with grandma and grandpa during our little holiday in Napa. As we sipped and spoke, I recognized Dire Straits playing softly in the background, gazed at length out the massive glass doors that open out onto the scenic vineyards separating the tasting room from the river, and decided that should fortune ever smile upon me in such a way as to allow me to have my own little winery in the Napa Valley, I would want it to be very much like Titus Vineyards.
Our little Titus is now nearly nine months old, and to this day people still ask me if he is named for the Napa Valley winery with which he shares his title. This question is especially common at wine tastings, I will admit, which I have a tendency to take him to, and may be exacerbated slightly when I wear my favorite Titus Vineyards tee-shirt, a memento I brought back to remind me of our visit. Our little one likes to take in the bouquet of a bold Napa Cabernet almost as much as I do, and of course I offer no objections. And while their wonderful winery is not in fact the eponym of my wonderful little boy, theres nevertheless something very special to us about opening a bottle of the Titus brothers extraordinary wine with the name they share with our son displayed prominently on the label.
Wineries are ubiquitous in the thirty miles that span between Mt. St. Helena and American Canyon. The more time I spend in the Napa Valley, the more I try to seek out places that are somehow different from the others, wineries that in one way or another break free of the prevailing mold, and weve found one of those in Titus Vineyards. You wont need to have a family member named Titus to appreciate the extraordinary hospitality, exquisite wines, and beautiful views that you can experience during a visit to their tasting room. If youre a lover of the Napa Valley, be it for the extraordinary wines or unparalleled environs, then Sonja and I strongly recommend you schedule a visit to the Titus Vineyards tasting room the next time youre in the area.