Paul LaRussa; Building Meccas – Wine Cellar Designer, Builder, Contractor

Master of Wine Meccas: Paul LaRussa

What differentiates a pretty picture from a piece that moves its viewer and alters one’s

 state?  The answer is Artfulness.

This is perhaps the easiest way to describe Premier Cru Wine Cellars and what drives its owner, Paul LaRussa to create art in the spaces in which people love to store their wine. While some companies build cellars, LaRussa builds concept and stirs our senses with his use of space and structural design.

Going Against The Grain

While LaRussa would never mix grains when it comes to wood of course, he will go against every preconceived notion that other cellar architects will quote as gospel. When Sherman Oaks-based Kerri Gaal hired LaRussa to change her art studio

Paul LaRussa studies the Burgundy expression from his Premier CruCollection Stemware.

 (adjacent to her beautifully self-designed home)

into a wine cellar she expected an immediate barrage

of information on shelving and square-inches. Instead, she says she got a surprise:

“Before Paul even got to the wine cellar he stopped in awe of our sprawling, arms-out oak tree and said ‘We’re using that’. I didn’t know what that meant and I have to admit I felt a mixture of excitement and trepidation so I hired him on the spot.” LaRussa had no intentions of altering the magnificent tree. Instead he installed a large window in the cellar. Yes, you read it right. A window. In a wine cellar. A big window. 

 “The window was created to frame the tree as the cellar’s centerpiece. The wood from outside is drawn in visually and complements the fine Knotty Alder that I used for the cellar itself,” explains LaRussa. “The angle of the window and the positioning of the shelving insured no direct sunlight would shine onto any bottles. Instead the light is defused as it enters the cellar, and shaded by the tree itself.”

Perhaps it’s also LaRussa’s very approach to his work that sets him worlds apart from cellar makers. It might seem strange, but his success could be largely attributed to the fact that he doesn’t begin each project obsessed with “what pleases most clients” as a priority. Instead, he allows inspiration to come from the space with which he is working, and the creative form which grows organically from that. As a vinophile himself, he already exists within the world of wine lovers.

Achieving the potential of the space is LaRussa’s goal. He’s not interested in selling preconceived, one-fits-all hardware which represents the business model for the vast majority of cellar makers. The tree concept proved to be a huge success, but that’s not Gaal’s favorite element of the cellar. Nor are the striking oak-barrel floorboards or the cleverly optimized use of space. The honor for favorite feature goes to the door! “It’s a masterpiece,” she says. Gaal herself is a stained-glass and mosaic artist. “I wanted something worthy of the term aesthetically surprising. That’s important to me,” she explains.

Below, Kerri Gaal discusses her favorite wines with Paul LaRussa,

in her favorite place – the cellar he built for her.  


The one-hundred percent handcrafted door was created with over 500 pieces of wood to capture the upper expression of this visual artwork. The entire door is completely handcrafted with Knotty Alder and finished with proprietary means to acquire the warmth and finish.

If the Bauhaus era, which coupled framed art with tubular furniture, influenced home and office furniture around the world; and if its cubism gave birth to Tupperware’s design, then it is understandable that LaRussa is seen by his wine-industry peers as a pioneer in structure and creative design.  Innovation in its most exquisite form meets practicality in its most optimized variety.


Your Own Private Hide-Away

LaRussa is leading the charge to create private meccas where our memories, nostalgia, long-awaited arrivals and prized acquisitions in the form of wine bottles, lay wait for their opening day. In a LaRussa cellar, your collection will dwell in a stunning environment where detailed and original craftsmanship is honed to evoke feelings of “something exceptional”. On entering one of LaRussa’s cellars, you can’t help but feel you are somewhere special and that the cellar you’re in says everything about its owner.

A LaRussa cellar isn’t just somewhere to store wine – it’s your special place to spend time with your collection. “I really didn’t want a generic wine cellar,” says Gaal. “Paul is an artist, a discoverer. This oddly shaped room scared other cellar makers I talked to or, at the very least, limited them. Paul wasn’t like them. He loved the angles. He will not play victim to challenges. He sees them as an opportunity to do something different.”

A short drive across town to Pacific Palisades and a cellar of a different nature proves small is beautiful too. In the flawless home of Doreen Leeds, one can behold this unimposing yet completely arresting cellar – the possibility of which is electrifying. After all, many reading this have room for a cellar of this size. (74”d x 58”w). Could we too have a Paul LaRussa original?

(Below) This close up of Doreen Leed’s home in

the Palisades demonstrates the pebble-lined floor,

flawless lines and optimized use of space.

I posed this very question to LaRussa directly. Does one have to be in the know? A friend of a friend? A fellow wino? Laughing, almost too hard at what I thought to be a fairly decent question, LaRussa replies with a resounding “Of course, you can have a Paul LaRussa! I draw lines of harmony. That’s all I really do.”

Sure. If it were that easy…all cellar makers would do it!

Quality Glass Makes Difference In Taste

Premier Cru Collection Times Record John Lovett 12 08 2015

Online Article by John Lovett, TIMES RECORD

By John Lovett • Times Record •

Paul LaRussa’s Premier Cru Collection stemware won’t be easily found in a casual Internet search for the finest wine glasses on earth, but they should be.

The California designer calls them a “monument to fine wine” and has dedicated his life to “elevating that experience” of wine drinking with his collection of four sleek and modern glasses made from lead-free crystal by Old World artisans.

“The influence for the collection is about having things that are special,” LaRussa said in a phone interview earlier this year. “These are meant to elevate fine wine with the human experience and integrate that reality.”

LaRussa professes an “obsession with authenticity and quality” in his construction of both wine cellars for clients and wine accessories, like the $950 fossilized mammoth bone corkscrew wine opener with diamond, ruby and topaz accents. There’s also a massive $1,250 pure Peruvian silver corkscrew wine opener from LaRussa, but it is now out of stock.

The stemware is less expensive in comparison, at $320 for a set of four Premier Cru Collection glasses made in a 200-year-old glass-working factory at Weisswasser, Germany. Competitively priced with other fine wine glasses, LaRussa’s stemware range from $95 for the voluptuous Burgundy to $65 for the graceful, yet edgy Champagne glass. Each are inconspicuously etched at the base with “Premier Cru Collection.

”The Riedel Sommeliers Bordeaux Grand Cru glass, in comparison, goes for $125 and just looks like a normal wine glass.

Also in LaRussa’s princely collection are stemware meant for Bordeaux and white wines, at $85 and $75 respectively. The Premier Cru Collection white wine glasses, however, are currently only available in the stemware set, the website states.

Although they may look delicate, and feel light to the touch, the glasses are sturdy. LaRussa said he has even seen one survive being knocked over on a granite counter top. The Burgundy glass weighs about 6 ounces. The Bordeaux, white wine and Champagne glasses are just slightly lighter at 5 and 4 ounces each.

In a same-wine taste test against what many consider to be the finest wine glass maker, Riedel, the Premier Cru Collection stood shoulders above in both avant-garde appearance and aromatic function.


To Gift a Wine Lover – Unique gift for a Wine Lover

“Unique Gift For A Wine Lover”

Finding the perfect gift for a wine lover is much easier said than done, until you discover Premier Cru Collection “Essence of the Fine Wine Experience . . .” at

Often I hear about those who have trouble finding the right gift for their wine lover companion, family member, friend or associate.

The problem isn’t just in making the effort of going out and buying something, just doing it, just buying anything The problem is:  What is the most meaningful purchase I can make for this wine lover to show them that: “I understand your love and passion for fine wine – even if I myself am not a wine connoiosseur.”

“I like wine”, you say, “but I’m not obessed with it, like my companion, family member, friend or associate is.  But, I want them to understand that I can relate to their deep passion for fine wine.”

The problem is not knowing of a source one can trust to be truly genuine, offering authentic old world quality, and with world class style in design for fine wine stemware, corkscrew wine-openers and more.

A wine lover wants something that matches the intensity of their love for fine wine; they want something that is a valid and thoughtful expression of an intangible feeling.  Being a wine lover or obsessed with fine wine is a completely cerebral experience; involing all of the senses – sense of smell, taste, feel, and sight.  It’s a completely personal experience on the deepest level.

Additionally, enjoying a really fine wine is a completely transending, etheral experience, where you can feel your chi.  Premier Cru Collection is the physical counterpart to that feeling . . .

A Brand Innovation where one can find “Only Handmade” items that are artistic beautiful & wine related.

Premier Cru Collection “Essence of the Fine Wine Experience . . .” is that brand: as stated above, it’s a line of “only handmade” items that are artistic, beautiful (stunningly-beautiful), and wine related (Truly authentic world class quality).

Our flagship offering is mouthblown, handmade, lead free crystal stemware that is artistically stunning and beatiful.  Offered in a Set of Burgundy, Bordeaux, white wine, and champagne stems.  These handmade works of art provide “High Fashion For Your Table” and are a true artistic expression that complement each other.

Another stunning item is the offering of handmade corkscrew wine openers, all hand made with hand engraving on some.  We have, 10,000 to 50,000 year old fossilized mammoth ivory, ivory crust, and mammoth bone, some with diamond, ruby, and topaz, and some  more down-to-earth, subtle attributes like African ebony wood, turquoise, and vinewood – all made with the finest steel, 12c27 Sandwik steel from sweden.

And with the saying:  “What do you give the person who has everything?”, the answer is:  “You give them something that they didn’t know existed”:  Premier Cru Collection, world class, only-handmade items for the deserving wine lover in your life.

Sometimes the answer to something is right under our nose when we first begin to look . . . in this case it’s Premier Cru Collection, an online boutique, and it is also available at Woodland Hills Wine Company in Woodland Hills and K & L Wine Merchants in Hollywood.

Make This Holiday Season Magic With Prmier Cru Collection “Essence of the Fine Wine Experience . . .” and show a wine lover “you get it”  (310) 289-1221 and we’ll recommend the perfect gift for your situation.

Custom Wine Cellars – Art Category In Los Angeles

By Paul LaRussa,

Custom wine cellars have been “in the state of becoming” as we push the envelope for our clientele to give them a custom wine cellar that is in-of-itself a work of art.

Today, our discriminating clientele want something that is simply and uniquely their own.  However, it must be the optimal vision of valid-artistry.

We meet that objective and give them something that: They didn’t know how to ask for; we are artists and Wine Cellars are our medium…

I tell my perspective clients: “No one will ever care more about their wine cellar than me.”  That’s both in terms of the care of fine wine, (the climate control and refrigeration of it) and also the artistic expression that energizes and inspires my clients.  My wine cellars become a very important part of the path in their journey of traversing this intoxicating, entrancing, and intriguing aspect of our human existence; enjoying the art of fine wine.

Fortunately, for us, we find many advanced-minded people, (many in Los Angeles) who happen to have a wine collection and allow me to execute my vision to complement their version of the “Essence of the Fine Wine Experience…” (the tag line for Premier Cru Collection) and create a wine cellar that is not only so much different than what they thought they could have, but also, so alive, enticing and invigorating as well that, my designs help to further their own justification that involvement in fine wine is truly an art form in-of so many different ways – and now – even including their wine cellar.

Designing and building artistic custom wine cellars in Los Angeles has become so gratifying; especially because of the artistic expression I have come to experience.  It is truly the acceptance of my clients “to allow me” to create something so dynamic, timeless, and exciting that makes me humbled and grateful, to all of my clients, for this very meaningful work.

Premier Cru Wine Cellars (310) 289-1221

Paul LaRussa,


Founder & Chief Designer

Premier Cru Collection: Stemware That Enhances The Wine

Brilliant Color in Wine with Premier Cru Collection Bordeaux Stemware

Premier Cru Collection crystal stemware is beauty in a glass with its sleek modern design.

Photos by Ken Bernstein
Premier Cru Collection hand-blown stemware is beauty in a glass with its sleek modern design.The enjoying wine not only encompasses the bottle of wine chosen but also the company you are with, the cuisine you are pairing with each wine and the glass that the wine is served in. The glass can make or break the occasion. Recently at a dinner at Ysabel I had the opportunity to meet with Paul LaRussa, Premier Cru Collection and experience first hand his exquisite crystal stemware.

The stemware is sleek, modern and light as it elegantly shows off the wine within your glass. Handcrafted in Germany this crystal stemware is handblown, lead-free and is quite strong. The wine glasses come in four different styles. They are the Champagne, White wine, Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Paul LaRussa’s background is in constructing and designing custom wine cellars. In 2012 the idea of unique stemware blossomed because he wanted to find accessories to accompany his handcrafted Premier Cru Wine Cellars. Looking at the wine glasses that were currently available he saw a demand for stemware that was upscale, exclusive and easy to handle, allowing it to be utilized both for special occasions and everyday use.

His appreciation for the craftsman era and finding something handmade spurred his quest to seek out a glass design that he hoped people would have both an emotional connection to and also see the stemware as an artistic expression and a form of art.

Our dinner at Ysabel was a four-course meal that utilized all four types of the wine glasses. What I immediately noticed was how light the glasses were. You actually could feel the weight of the wine not the glass. I also observed how much easier it was to assess the aromatic expression of each wine especially the Pinot Noir. So often I have difficulty identify the fragrances and aromas but with the Premier Cru Collection it was effortless.

What was even more interesting is that Ysabel has taken the next step in fine dining by promoting the use of the Premier Cru Collection at their restaurant. In speaking with Ysabel manager Alex LaPratt, he emphasized the following; He wants his wine list to be different, more unique and not something you can purchase in a local store, thereby elevating your dining experience to a totally special level. In addition he felt wines 10 years plus and higher end pricier wines merited superior quality stemware. Alex says, “the wine and its presentation should be impressive and a large part of the dining experience, therefore we typically decant the wine and serve wine in the Premier Cru Collection stemware.” Alex went on to say, “the glasses are stronger than regular crystal wine glasses”.

Our meal at Ysabel began with Blue Fin Tuna Thai basil oil & Serrano chile. It was paired with a Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut Reserve. The Premier Cru Collection Champagne glass with its sleek lines enhanced the virtues of this marvelous Champagne and brought out the golden colors.

The second course was Grilled Zucchini Fava Beans & green chili broth. This was the epitome of a farm to table meal. With this course we were served the 2012 Domaine Cheveau Pouilly-Fuissé in the white wine glass from the Premier Cru Collection. The art form of this collection is not just the glass but the complete visual image created of the crystal glass with the pale yellow color of the wine within.

Our third course was a Cavatelli Bolognese only with out the pasta. This was served with a Domaine Jean-Marc Moret Santenay. Here is where I found the beauty of this stemware in terms of the aromatics. The wonderful florals of this Pinot Noir flourished in this burgundy glass. Not only did it reveal how powerful the aromas emanated but I also noticed the weight of the wine in my glass. I had never observed this before or perhaps we just take that for granted. Either way it was noticeably apparent with this crystal stemware.

We finished our meal with a Duck Breast lambrusco & golden beets, which was paired with a 2011 Château Larruau Margaux served in the last of the Premier Cru Collection, the Bordeaux Glass.

This will be a meal to remember. The cuisine was marvelous, the wine superb and the Premier Cru Collection stemware was the extra touch that you might say rounded out the evening.

Although Ysabel does not use the stemware all the time, they will accept your request so if you would like to experience the Premier Cru Collection when dining at this restaurant do request that your server bring your wine in these extraordinary glasses.

Hopefully more restaurants in the future will follow this trend making your dining experience well deserving one.

For more information:

Premier Cru Collection  (310) 289-1221

Premier Cru Collection stemware is showcased:
K & L Wine Merchants
1400 Vine Street
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 464-9463


945 N. Fairfax Ave.,
West Hollywood, CA 90046
(323) 366-2940


Eve Bushman’s Eve’s Wine 101 on Premier Cru Collection Stemware

Premier Cru Collection – “Essence of the Fine Wine Experience…”

By Eve Bushman of Eve’s Wine 101 –

A Fine Wine Accessory Brand – handmade stemware.

While the luncheon (see the menu below) and the wines were great on their own, we also had the benefit of having our wines served in elegant Premier Cru handmade wineglasses. Yes, the wine glass is just as important to improving your wine experience as is the wine, the food and the company. Trust me. The stems on these glasses were so thin and delicate I first only felt confident holding them by the base. After learning that they were lead-free, and therefore stronger, I grew more confident holding them by their lovely stems.

Paul LaRussa, founder and chief designer at Premier Cru Collection said that too many people “in certain ways live in a throwaway society. This (stemware) elevates the fine wine experience. Handmade and lead free (they are) more durable stemware than you would expect by the elegance and thin stem.” The glasses can be used outdoors, have even been knocked over on granite counter top and they survived – but I wouldn’t try this at home.

LaRussa believes that “Light stemware allows weight of the wine to be highlighted.”

The company builds large custom wine cellars that LaRussa said are highly artistic. It is LaRussa’s vision to bring those that appreciate a handmade cellar a handmade tabletop to go with it. Wine is handmade so this stemware “completes the cycle.” Their 200-year old German factory makes the stemware and a French company makes their corkscrews.

The tagline of the company is, “Essence of the Fine Wine Experience…”

To see the glasses go to the website and click the online boutique: Stemware is currently being used locally at Ysabel restaurant to drink from and K & L Wine Merchants for purchase.

About Eve Bushman:

Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years.  She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a guest judge for the L.A. International Wine Competition.  You can email to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via


Ysabel Restaurant in High Fashion with Premier Cru Collection Stemware

ANNOUNCEMENT:  Premier Cru, Inc., dba: Premier Cru Collection

Premier Cru, Inc. is proud to announce that West Hollywood’s hottest new restaurant, Ysabel, an enticing, innovative, culinary-get-away, has started-off in high-fashion and, in concert with this exciting event, we are very proud to have Premier Cru Collection hand-blown, lead free, stemware featured with their fine wine selections.

World class, award winning Sommelier, Alexander LaPratt is amongst the elite stewards of Ysabel restaurant, helping to fulfill a vision of blending fantasy with reality in a world-class setting of fine wine and world class cuisine.

Premier Cru Collection hand-blown, lead free, stemware is absolutely stunning and a must-have for those who want to elevate their fine wine experience.

In addition to having your fine wine served in Premier Cru Collection stemware at Ysabel restaurant, located at 945 N. Fairfax Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90046 you’ll also find it at:

K & L Wine Merchants, 1400 Vine St, Hollywood, CA 90028

Telephone Number (323) 464-9463


Premier Cru Collection Online Web Boutique


Premier Cru Collection - tiff - Grayscale

“Essence of the Fine Wine Experience…”


WestsidePeople Magazine Features Premier Cru Collection Stemware

By David Rosenfeld

Kimmel Vineyards presents new chardonnay with Premier Cru Collection stemware

Restaurants / December 18, 2014

Jim Kimmel of Kimmel Vineyards with Paul LaRussa of Premier Cru. Photo by Westside People

Jim Kimmel of Kimmel Vineyards with Paul LaRussa of Premier Cru. Photo by Westside People

Following a 30-year tradition of growing premium wine grapes in Mendocino County, Kimmel Vineyards recently introduced a new chardonnay called Illuminate at an exclusive wine tasting at Wilshire Restaurant in Santa Monica.

Best known for its premium chardonnay, strong cabernets and exceptional merlot, Kimmel Vineyards released its new chardonnay at an affordable price of $8 per bottle as an effort to get into area grocery stores and large consumer box stores.

Owner Jim Kimmel presented the new label and other premium offerings with an extraordinary four-course meal by the award-winning chefs at Wilshire Restaruant. Starters of autumn squash soup, tuna tartare and roasted cauliflower were paired with 2013 Illuminate and the 2012 premium chardonnay as comparisons.

Wines were accompanied with handcrafted stemware by Premier Cru Collection sourced from a handmade glass blower in Germany. Offered in sets of four, the stemware is artistic and difficult to break.

“When you’re having a wine in a stem that’s special it really expands the whole experience,” said Paul LaRussa owner of Premier Cru. “One of the most important things when we enjoy a fine wine is that it’s an ethereal experience. It’s usually a time we never forget. Premier Cru collecton is the physical counterpart to that feeling.”

For Kimmel Vineyards, the event was about gaining notoriety in the wine connoisseur community.

“It’s still very challenging and can be difficult to get in the marketplace and be accepted,” Kimmel said during the course of our lunch.

His goal with Illuminate was to create a wine that’s accessible to the vast majority of consumers. Together with renowned winemaker Bruce Regalia they were able to create a wine sophisticated enough to still satisfy a discerning palate.

“We’ve gotten a very good reception on this new label,” Kimmel said. “We’re trying to get wine into the hands of people so they can enjoy it but at the same time we still need to provide for our families.”

For more on Kimmel Vineyards click here.

For more on Premier Cru Collection click here.

Special thanks to Natasha Swords at Swords PR.

Republique Restaurant

Republique Restaurant is an L.A. landmark within-a-landmark . . .

Paul LaRussa with Walter Manzke (home) at Republique Restaurant
Paul LaRussa with Walter Manzke (home) at Republique Restaurant

Located at:  624 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Charley Chaplin’s Office Building; built in 1929)

Walter Manzke and his beautiful wife, Margarita Manzke, a pastry chef, have spearheaded an effort with all the right ingredients to make it happen:  Love, Passion, Soul, Emotion and of course, incredible Talent and Ability.

Walter is a true culinary genius, who, along with Margarita, put together a restaurant with so many harmonious elements – resulting in a world-class, formal or casual (depending on your state-of-mind), culinary experience that one will never forget.
– Walter & Marg, we had an unforgettable and truly delightful dinner and birthday celebration for our daughter, Sophia.  Thank you, very much, for all that you have done with bringing Republique to Los Angeles.

Sommelier, Taylor Parsons, will recommend the best wine for your palate and meal in a very humble and gracious way.  He loves wine (and the essence of the fine wine experience) and he narrows-in on the best wine for “your” experience.  He has so many classically made wines (so earthy, from devoted passionate winemakers) “providing exceptional value” – as not to be unrealistic offering high-priced wines.  Our wines were quite exceptional and very affordable – which really hits home the day after.  There’s no “WHAT?!” factor with Taylor Parsons.
– Thank you, Taylor, for such great recommendations on the wine!!!

Ben Wilson was our Server for the evening.  I can say that Ben’s approach to Table-Service is so natural and accommodating, our dining experience elevated just with the way he managed our evening.  He’s comfortable in his own skin and he makes you feel so relaxed, welcomed, and comfortable too, (like himself!).
– Ben, we really appreciated the care and attention you took to our time as a guest at Republique.  Thank you.  You are a serious, focused, engaging and socially skilled individual and a great credit to the Republique line-up!

Republique Restaurant restaurant truly made Los Angeles a better place – hands-down, without any exceptions.

I am truly, truly, grateful to have had the experience . . . Thank you.

Paul LaRussa,
Chief Designer
Premier Cru Collection
Premier Cru Wine Cellars