Helen Keplinger, Winemaker

Helen Keplinger grew up in Ohio in a family that centered most everything around food, wine, the arts, nature and travel. After graduating from Smith College, she considered a career in medicine before she discovered that UC Davis had a graduate program in Enology, and instead followed her passion for wine to California.

After completing the Master’s Program, she apprenticed in Australia and at Paradigm Winery and Fiddlehead Cellars. She was the winemaker for Cellers Melis in Spain’s Priorat for three years, and then for Kenzo Estate, Sarocka, Fort Ross, and Arrow & Branch. In 2006, she began her own small production of single-vineyard Rhone varietal wines, Keplinger Wines. After two years as the winemaker of Bryant Family Vineyard, she turned her focus to Keplinger Wines and a few select consulting clients.

She has benefitted from her work with many great mentors – Heidi Peterson Barrett, Kathy Joseph, Claude Gros, David Abreu, Michel Rolland – in a number of different regions from Santa Barbara to Spain to Napa Valley. Although all of these experiences inform her vineyard selection, practices, and winemaking, she has cultivated a style all her own.

Helen was first recognized as a winemaker to watch by the Wine Spectator in 2011. She was named 2012 Winemaker of the Year by Food & Wine Magazine, and was honored with the cover and feature article of the June 15th 2014 Wine Spectator. She has become known for making distinctive wines. She has a keen understanding of specific vineyard sites, and how to optimize the farming and winemaking to make wines expressive of their place.