Canadian-bred Winemaker Makes Her Mark in California

Ontario’s Elizabeth Grant-Douglas has applied her cool climate education to Sonoma’s reputed La Crema Winery

April 12, 2016

By Summit Fine Wines / Photo: Summit Fine Wines

There aren’t a lot of kids who would list winemaking among their favourite pastimes, but as a youngster Elizabeth Grant-Douglas was the exception. Born into a family of hobby winemakers, Grant-Douglas’s passion for the craft began as a child when she practiced alongside her parents in the basement of their Niagara Falls home. “The most important thing I learned about winemaking is patience,” shares Grant-Douglas fondly. “Grapes will not ripen on your schedule and fermentations have their own agendas.”

Now Director of Winemaking at La Crema, a Jackson Family Wines winery located just outside of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, California, Grant-Douglas’s unique training in cool-climate oenology has given her the patience and practice required to produce award-winning Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir varietals.

Despite her early start, Grant-Douglas was not always fast-tracked for a winemaking career. She studied Economics at the University of Waterloo before following her fascination with the complexities of Canadian grapes to Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture program. “The program at Brock was announced as I was finishing my Economics degree,” explains Grant-Douglas. “It meant another four years of school, but I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do—I still can’t.”


Upon graduation Grant-Douglas began her slow migration south, acquiring expertise across Canada and in Washington before arriving at La Crema, where she was ultimately named Winemaker in 2010.

La Crema harvests grapes from five nearby regions however Summit Fine Wines, the Vancouver distributor of all Jackson Family products, further narrows the focus for their British Columbia market. They carry Sonoma Coast, Monterey and Willamette Valley appellations; three regions influenced by stark temperature changes and cold winds that demand Grant-Douglas’s unique experience and gentle approach.

Grapes are not the only thing that the La Crema team handles carefully. The advanced facility is committed to sustainability, practicing environmental consciousness at several levels of the winemaking process from the protection of critters to the use of Tesla batteries and meticulous water conservation. Though already considered an industry leader, Grant-Douglas’s vision for La Crema doesn’t end here.

“We have been experimenting with a lovely rosé from the Monterey appellation and have been creating new wines from the Willamette Valley sub-appellations,” shares Grant-Douglas. “After fifteen harvests at La Crema I’m still learning something new every day.”

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