The Scene

Uncorked: La Crema Winery sports partnership with WNBA

Chicago Sky players add to anticipation

La Crema Winery partners with WNBA.

Wine will be part of the most anticipated season in WNBA history.

And it won’t just be sparkling wine sprayed in a WNBA Finals clinching post-game celebration in late October. La Crema has partnered with the WNBA – wines from the winery, part of the Jackson Family Wines portfolio, will be featured prominently this season.

La Crema wines were in rookie gift bags at the most-watched WNBA Draft, which featured over three million viewers. Also, the La Crema Signature Tasting Room Experience will be part of the Fan Festival at the WNBA All-Star event from July 18 to 20 in Phoenix.

The WNBA renaissance comes off the heels of the Las Vegas Aces winning back-to-back WNBA championships. No. 1 draft pick Caitlin Clark was selected by the Indiana Fever after consecutive NCAA Player of the Year awards, alongside the Chicago Sky selections of Kamilla Cardoso, part of the 2024 NCAA Champion South Carolina Gamecocks at No. 3, and Angel Reese, who won the 2023 title with LSU, at No. 7.

“We are super excited with all the energy at the NCAA level, with players coming in with their own followers,” said WNBA chief growth officer Colie Edison in a phone interview. “It’s really brought the attention of the league to the next level. It’s generational talent coming into a league that’s maturing in its 28th season.”

In similar fashion, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird forged a rivalry in college basketball before Johnson would lead the Los Angeles Lakers and Bird the Boston Celtics, helping the NBA rise to prominence in the 1980s. The popularity of the NBA skyrocketed as Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six championships in an eight-year window.

Just like the NBA in the ′80s and ’90s, a plethora of talented players with established college careers have created a smoldering atmosphere with rabid fan interest.

“We’ve always had talent,” Edison said. “We have generational talents joining at the right time. Breanna Stewart won four straight NCAA titles … Maya Moore … Kelsey Plum … we want to take phenomenal athletes and bring them to the next level. Right now, we are at a tipping point with the infusion of the next generation of talent.”

La Crema Co-Proprietor Hailey Jackson Hartford Murray has a wider audience in which to spread the La Crema vision.

“The rise of women’s basketball is certainly a cultural force, capturing the attention of a younger generation,” Jackson Hartford Murray said. “Our alignment with the WNBA presents a unique opportunity for La Crema to bridge the gap between traditional wine enthusiasts and a burgeoning audience seeking new and meaningful values-driven experiences.”

Title IX is now more than 50 years old. The federal law was passed in 1972, and protects students and employees from discrimination in educational settings based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation and gender expression, meaning generations of girls have grown up with assets equal to boys and men’s teams.

The extra resources, success stories, added television exposure and myriad other benefits have the league primed for a record-setting season.

“You’re seeing the hard work done around Title IX and the after-effects,” Edison said. “Fifty years after Title IX, you are seeing elite athletes at the youth level. That never happened before. The dedicated resources led to girls staying in sports longer because there’s an ecosystem that supports youth participation for boys and now girls, too. That’s something that was not available in pre-Title IX times. Girls that grew up watching the WNBA are graduating high school. Girls have role models in women who look like them playing professionally.”

Raise a toast this season when watching the entertaining and elite level of play at a WNBA game.

• James Nokes has been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Email him at


Wine for a Rainy Day: LangeTwins, Jahant Woods 01 Vineyard, Jahant AVA Fume Blanc 2022 ($27) – The humidity of a rainy day calls for a crispy, aromatic white. With sage, rosemary and pear, this white from Lodi, California, jumps out of the glass.

Wine for your rock ’n’ roll mood: Emercy Wines, Central Coast AVA, “Renewal” ($44) – The colorful, abstract label is by artist Betty Wick. The star here is the juicy, big flavors winemaker Orion Stang was able to coax out like a lead singer holding a crowd in the palm of their hand as they strut out for an encore. There’s blackberry compote, iodine and ground herb flavors on a finish with loads of fresh dark fruits.

Wine for a rib-eye: Mark Ryan Winery, Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon “The Dissident” 2021 ($45) – A rich, luxurious and persistent wine with currant, black cherry and spice flavors. There’s silky smooth tannins and enough body to complement a well-marbled rib-eye fresh off the grill. Easily, the best cabernet tasted this year.

Wine for the poolside: Mingle Mocktails ($11.99 for four, 12-ounce cans) – The canned sparkling raspberry rosé is excellent for sitting near the pool, tossing in a cooler for an outdoor concert or bringing to a tailgate. The alcohol-free beverage has 80 fewer calories and 35% less sugar than a 4-ounce pour of traditional rosé. It’s crispy, refreshing and easy to sip. Toss some raspberries in it for a little something extra.

La Crema Winery partners with WNBA.