Winemaking Philosophy

Naturally, our winemaking team seeks to express the essence of the terroir in our wines, capturing the unique personality and flavor profile of the vineyards. Craig McAllister infuses our winemaking regime with a highly personal touch that combines the best of traditional Burgundian winemaking techniques with a contemporary California style.

Click the left and right arrows to learn about our winemaking philosophy.

Pinot Noir Grapes

Gentle Handling

In every bottle of La Crema there's an elegance that comes from the careful attention paid by Head Winemaker Craig McAllister and his team, from the first bud break all the way through bottling. We believe gentle handling is key to preserving the beautiful complexity of the grapes, so we’re meticulous in our approach.

Harvesting with Care
We prefer to pick grapes in the coolest hours of the day (or night), and handle them tenderly to ensure the clusters arrive at the winery in prime condition.

Chardonnay Grapes

Chardonnay Winemaking

From Grape to Juice
When Chardonnay arrives at the winery, the grapes move via conveyor belt to the press. To best capture the fresh fruit character, we gently compress whole clusters, which minimizes any bitter compounds from the skins, seeds or stems.

Growing Season

From Juice to Wine
We ferment our Chardonnay in oak, and stir the lees (yeast deposits) by hand twice a month to create a rich texture on the palate.

Pinot Noir Grapes

Pinot Noir Winemaking

From Grape to Juice
Pinot Noir grapes are hand-sorted at the winery. Any clusters with green or overripe grapes are removed, along with any stems, leaves, or other “MOG” (material other than grapes). Clusters move by conveyor belt to a destemmer, which separates grapes from the stems.

Growing Season

At the La Crema winery, fermentation then takes place small, open-top fermenters, with the floating cap of skins and seeds punched down into the juice three times each day to extract tannins and color.

From Juice to Wine
After destemming, Pinot Noir is given a “cold soak,” resting in chilled tanks for three to five days. As the grape juice, which is clear, steeps in the deep purple grape skins, it takes on gorgeous luminous color. Cold soaking also captures layers of complex aromatics.

Pinot Gris Grapes

Pinot Gris Winemaking

From Grape to Juice
Our Pinot Gris is grown in Monterey, one of the longest, coolest growing areas in California. That means grapes develop juicy, complex flavors and minerality.

Pinot Gris juice is transformed to wine very, very slowly. Unlike Pinot Noir, which ferments in a matter of days, Pinot Gris takes nearly a month to complete fermentation. This means all the lovely floral and fresh fruit notes are preserved.

From Juice to Wine
At the winery, we gently press the grapes without de-stemming. The wine is then fermented in 100% stainless steel to capture all the bright fruit flavors.

Oak Barrels

Our Barrels

La Crema's Barrels
Barrels have a big influence on a wine’s flavor, aroma and mouthfeel. We use primarily French oak for our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Our winery has a partnership with stave mill in France, allowing us great control over quality.

Barrel Influence

What does Oak do?
Aging in oak lends pleasing characteristics to wine, such as flavors and aromas of baking spice (such as cinnamon, clove and nutmeg) and the sweet, heady notes of vanilla bean. Oak also imparts of bit of tannin, and provides a richer mouthfeel.


La Crema’s philosophy of gentle handling includes not only our winemaking techniques, but also how we treat our natural resources. Whether in our vineyards or in our winery, we make decisions for the long term.