La Crema Winery
Welcome To Monterey Wine Country And La Crema
The next time you're in Sonoma County Wine Country, we invite you to stop by the La Crema Tasting Lounge. While you may already include our Sonoma Coast and Monterey wines on your list of favorites, at our newly remodeled and expanded Tasting Lounge we pour a variety of limited-production releases only available directly from the winery that you may not have tasted before.
Our Tasting Lounge is located just off the square in downtown Healdsburg, where the Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley winegrowing regions meet.
Fax: 707 571-1448
- Maker of exquisite Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Gris.
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Director of Winemaking
Elizabeth Grant-Douglas' love of winemaking began at a young age in the basement of her childhood home in Niagara Falls, Canada. It was there that her parents made wine from grapes grown in her father’s hobby vineyard out back, and she learned about viticulture first-hand as she helped him tend the vines. Elizabeth first earned a degree in Economics at the University of Waterloo before switching gears entirely to focus on the art and skill of winemaking. She as part of the first graduating class of Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture program.
Always fascinated by the unique challenges of making wine from grapes grown in cooler climates, she began her career working in several Canadian wineries including Inniskillin, Chateau des Charmes and Thirteenth Street, before heading to Washington and, finally, the Sonoma Coast.
Here, the Sonoma Coast vineyards are a natural fit for Elizabeth's experience and specialized education, giving her unique insight on the rigors of grape growing and winemaking in cool regions. Not surprisingly, she is particularly drawn to the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards of Russian River Valley because of the ideal growing conditions it offers these classic Burgundian varietals.
Elizabeth joined La Crema as an enologist in 2001 and was named Winemaker in 2010. She was promoted to her current position in 2013. Her journey of discovery and craftsmanship continues as her relationship with the gorgeous Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris fruit of California's coastal wine regions evolves.
Originally from New Zealand, Associate Winemaker Craig McAllister now calls California home. He's worked in in New Zealand, Australia, Chile and Cyprus and has a deep passion for winemaking.
Craig first joined La Crema in 2007 as the harvest enologist, and returned again for the 2008 season. After gaining even more experience abroad, he joined the team full-time in 2009. Throughout his tenure he’s been a steward of La Crema’s Monterey program and worked extensively on Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. He was promoted to his current position in 2013.
Craig holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Viticulture and Enology from Lincoln University in New Zealand. His skill, experience, and quick wit continue to enhance the strength of the La Crema winemaking team.
Hailing from Saint Louis, Matt earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Systems Management from the University of Missouri, where he focused on viticulture. He quickly gravitated towards wine production and embarked on an internship tour that stopped in California, Australia, Niagara, South Africa’s Hemel-en-Aarde, and Central Otago in New Zealand. Throughout this varied curriculum, "Flick" has rarely strayed from cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Matt joined the La Crema team shortly before the 2013 harvest as Enologist. His winemaking philosophies and years of practical experience made him a valuable addition and he was named to his current position in October 2013. His primary responsibility is overseeing the Chardonnay program.
La Crema General Manager
A wine country native, Lacy Procopenko has fond childhood memories of family drives through vineyards in the Russian River Valley. Today, her appreciation for cool climate growing regions extends far beyond sightseeing. As General Manager for La Crema, she’s responsible for strategic direction and day-to-day management of one of the most loved Sonoma County wineries.
Lacy began her career in human resources consulting and recruiting, and gained experience at Robertson Stephens and Genentech in San Francisco. She joined the La Crema family in 2002 as the HR Administrator, combining her human resources expertise with her passion for wine. During her tenure she has held a variety of management roles, including Business Manager and Director of Operations. She was promoted to her current position in 2012.
Lacy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Strategic Management from Dominican University of California. When not working, she can be spotted on local running trails while training for her next marathon or enjoying a meal at one of the many great area restaurants.
Practices & Techniques
We harvest grapes in the cool early morning hours and treat it very gently from vine to press to ensure the delicate clusters arrive in prime condition.
To best capture the fresh fruit character, a gentle whole-cluster press is used for Chardonnay to minimize bitter compounds from skins, seeds and stems. Our Chardonnays are fermented in French oak, with the lees (yeast deposit) hand stirred twice a month to create a round, rich texture on the palate.
Pinot Noir Fermentation:
After the stems are removed, Pinot Noir is left to rest in a cold soak for five to eight days. This captures layers of complex aromatics and a gorgeous luminous color. Fermentation then takes place in small, open-top fermenters, with the cap of skins and seeds punched down through the juice three times each day to balance out tannin weight and structure. When fermentation is complete, the wine is pressed off the skins with a gentle basket press.
Both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are aged primarily in French oak. Barrels are carefully with specific grain and toast levels for each separate wine lot to ensure a balanced mingling of fruit and characteristics. At bottling time, minimal fining and filtration ensure the purity of varietal expression in the glass for which La Crema is well known.
From a practical perspective, “sustainable winegrowing” isn’t so much an advance in farming practices as it is a return to traditional farming methods. It’s an integral part of what we do – out in the vineyards and here at the winery.
-To build up the level of organic matter in our vineyard soils, we add composted grape pommace and chipped vegetation.
-We farm many of our Estate vineyards with “non-tillage” practice, reducing tractor passes and lessening fuel use and emissions.
-We use recycled material to make repairs to our vineyard trellises.
-We irrigate our Estate vineyard with treated and recycled process water.
-By carefully monitoring the water stress on our vines, we have been able to reduce our overall water use in the vineyards.
-We’ve planted trees along creeks and maintained the riparian areas bordering our vineyards to promote the health of watershed areas.
-Owls, blue birds and falcons will naturally control many vineyard pests, so we provide habitat boxes in our vineyards to invite them to nest here.
-We practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which introduces beneficial insects into the vineyard, helping to reduce the need to pesticides.
-We participate in a Demand Response Program to cut out electricity usage during potential black-out periods to reduce the need to build additional power plants.
-In partnership with the California Public Utility Commission, we are involved in two pilot programs: Continuous Energy Efficiency Improvement and Green House Gas Inventory and Reduction.
-We’ve retrofitted lighting, production equipment and hot water boilers resulting in annual energy savings equal to 190 homes’ yearly usage!
Estate Vineyards / AVA
Russian River Valley
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley serves not only as our home base, but also stands at the core of our winemaking philosophy. Officially established in 1983, the Russian River Valley AVA extends from Sebastopol north to Healdsburg, bordering the Sonoma Coast AVA to the west and Knights Valley to the east.
FOG Vineyards are cloaked in daily coastal fog that rolls in from the Pacific Ocean, protecting the fruit from the piercing California summer sun and retaining natural acidity as the fruit ripens slowly on the vine. The appellation is unique in that its boundaries were created based on fog intrusion. Daily temperature fluctuation in these vineyards can be as much as 40°F mid-summer.
SOILS There are more soil types found in Sonoma County than in all of France put together! And the Russian River Valley contains at least 30 of them. Alluvially deposited over the millennia, the soils found along the riverbanks consist primarily of sand and pebbles, which not surprisingly provides the ideal canvas for the cultivation of fine Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Just 45 minutes north of San Francisco and adjacent to the San Pablo Bay, Los Carneros straddles the Sonoma County /Napa Valley border, and was the first of California’s cool regions to be widely recognized for exceptional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietal expression.
FOOTHILL ORIGINS Many of the best vineyard sites in Carneros are in the foothills that cascade off the Mayacamas range of neighboring Napa Valley. The elevation of our vineyards provides serious structural integrity to both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, distinguishing it from the lower-lying areas. Two primary soil types prevail: Haire and Diablo . The best vineyards sites are in the foothills, where these well-drained soils naturally restrict vine vigor and encourage firm structural elements in the wines.
NATURAL AIR CONDITIONING The vineyards of Los Carneros are subjected relentless afternoon breezes that charge up the rolling hillsides from the San Pablo Bay, cooling the vines and slowing the ripening process to preserve natural acidity and fruit vibrancy (the winds are sometimes referred to as the “Carneros Express.”)
Anderson Valley is just north of the Sonoma County border in Mendocino County. Although it earned its reputation originally for Zinfandel and floral white varietals, this relative newcomer to the Pinot Noir scene has emerged as a powerhouse, with a distinct flavor and structural profile that differentiates the wines from its neighbors to the south.
ETCHED TOPOGRAPHY Nowhere else in the winegrowing regions of California is there a topography that is quite so self-contained: the narrow valley runs from Boonville in the south to Navarro in the north, confined by mountains on each site. In each range, rocky, mineral-laced soils confer complexity and a beautiful austerity to the wines.
EXTREME WINEMAKING Conveyed by the Navarro River, dense fog from the Mendocino Coast is funneled into the vineyards, offering an extreme contrast between California’s strong sun and the frigid coastal air, promoting small berries with firm acidity and marked delicacy. In the hills on the east side of the valley, vineyards rise to fairly high elevations, with thin and well-drained soils that impart distinct mineral qualities to the fruit. We farm on the northern end of the valley, in the shade of the coastal Redwoods where the greatest coastal influence is felt.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Widely considered to be one of the finest appellations anywhere in the world for the cultivation of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the Sonoma Coast appellation’s boundary begins with a narrow strip at the Mendocino County border, continuing along the western coastal edge of Sonoma County through the mouth of the Russian River Valley, and extending to the Sonoma-Los Carneros border of Napa.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION This rolling expanse of land is tied together by a single unifying feature: a climate cooled by ocean wind and fog intrusion. The terrain is varied, ranging from alluvial river benches to rugged hillsides within sight of the Pacific Ocean. All, however, feel the specific effects of fog, cooling breezes and wide diurnal ranges that promote complexity, firm structural elements and reduced yields.
SOIL DIVERSITY IS KEY Soils range dramatically – from clay loam near the San Pablo Bay to the rocky, ocean-derived soils in the ridges off the Pacific coastline. Soil diversity is a key factor in the complexity and broad textural range found in Sonoma Coast wines.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
The Monterey appellation begins just north of the Monterey Bay and extends south to Paso Robles.
GUSTY OCEAN WINDS Persistent gusty ocean winds are funneled down a 90-mile-long valley that runs north to south between the Santa Lucia and Gabilan Mountains. We source fruit from the east and west benches flanking the narrow Monterey Appellation as well as from the Arroyo Seco sub-appellation where well-drained alluvial soils prevail.
EXTENDED HANG TIME With one of the longest cool-climate seasons in the United States, abundant sun and scarce rainfall combine with strong winds, lowering yields and providing extended hang time on the vine, providing the desirable combination of vivid natural acidity and full maturity in the fruit.