La Crema Winery is part of Sonoma-based Jackson Family Estates, owned by Laura Jackson-Giron and her sister Jennifer Jackson. Located in the Russian River Valley and established in 1979, the winery specializes in pinot noir and chardonnay from cool-climate vineyards throughout California.
The winery has never allowed visitors, but the label has a well-earned reputation for quality. All the wines are appellation blends and span the coastal regions of California, from Monterey to Anderson Valley.
Several winemakers developed the La Crema Winery style throughout the years, including Sonoma County veterans Dan Goldfield (co-owner of Dutton-Goldfield Winery), Jeff Stewart (winemaker at Hartford Court) and Melissa Stackhouse (winemaker at J Vineyards & Winery). In 2011, Canadian native Elizabeth Grant-Douglas became the La Crema winemaker and has admirably carried on the tradition.
The wines offer a remarkably consistent high level of quality considering the relatively large production and reasonable pricing. La Crema is almost always among the best selling brands at U.S. restaurants. The “Wine & Spirits” 25th Anniversary Restaurant Poll of sommeliers published this year, found that La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir was the 26th most popular choice by the glass, and the third most popular choice by the bottle.
I have reviewed several La Crema pinot noirs over the years and have always found them easy to recommend. When people who are new to wine—and this includes my son who was recently invited to dinner—want a suggestion for a pinot noir to bring a host, I often recommend La Crema. They invariably thank me afterwards.
La Crema Pinot Noir is widely distributed, and at least one bottling is available on your local supermarket or wine retailer shelves. I have recently tasted and enjoyed the 2012 La Crema Monterey Pinot Noir ($23), 2012 La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($25), 2012 La Crema Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($30), 2012 La Crema Los Carneros Pinot Noir ($40), and the 2012 La Crema Panorama Vineyard Arroyo Seco Pinot Noir ($40). I thought the Sonoma Coast bottling was as good or better than many pinot noirs in the marketplace costing twice as much.
La Crema has a tasting room in downtown Healdsburg that is open daily. The website is www.lacrema.com