Helen Keplinger moved to California to attend the MS program in Enology at UC Davis. Since UC Davis, she has worked with Heidi Barrett at Paradigm in Napa Valley, Kathy Joseph at Fiddlehead in Santa Barbara, Michel Rolland, and David Abreu in Napa Valley. Since 2004, she has made wine for some exciting projects, including Cellers Melis (Priorat, Spain), Kenzo Estate, Arrow & Branch, Bryant Family Vineyards, and is currently crafting wine for Grace Family Vineyard, Carte Blanche, and Kerr Cellars.
Helen’s time in Priorat working with Grenache and finding unique singular vineyard sites for Melis was the inspiration for Keplinger wines. Auspiciously, Helen and DJ met in a Spanish wine shop in Los Angeles toward the end of 2003. DJ, having worked in sales and marketing within the technology sector, moved to Los Angeles to launch an organic line of foods in 2001. Managing a Spanish wine shop part time in the evenings led the two to meet over a bottle of 1995 Pago de los Capellanes, Riserva on DJs recommendation. In 2006, Helen founded Keplinger and the couple launched their first vintage in 2008 with a focus on small production, single-vineyard Rhone varietal wines.
The couple moved to Napa Valley in 2005 where Helen teamed up with Heidi Barrett again as winemaker for a new winery, Kenzo Estate. After settling back into Napa, Helen started searching for Grenache and found a special vineyard in Knights Valley that became the inaugural vintage of Keplinger in 2006. Since then, acclaim has been building, with press accolades naming Helen Food & Wine Magazine’s 2012 Winemaker of the Year and she graced the cover of Wine Spectator’s June 15, 2014 edition, with an inspirational story by James Laube.
Keplinger focuses on making seamlessly-crafted, terroir-driven, Rhone varietal wines from unique and diverse sites in Napa, Sonoma & Sierra Foothills. All the vineyards are hillside or mountain sites, carefully farmed by hand for small berries and concentrated flavors, in close collaboration with Helen. Each wine comes from a singular vineyard to represent the characteristics of the grape or grapes in the wine from their respective vineyard’s terroir each vintage. The wines are made in small lots, with careful attention paid to every detail. Towards the end of each harvest, Helen’s hands are stained deep purple. Keplinger constantly strives to make wines that are pure expressions of their vineyards and vintages. Today, production of ten boutique cuvees totals 1,600 cases, and a single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from the Oakville AVA has been added to the portfolio.
ADVINTAGE (NC, SC)
LANDMARK SELECTIONS LIMITED (CANADA)
MOMENTUM BEVERAGE TEAM (CO) (IL) (WI)
MONSIEUR TOUTON (CT, DC, MA, ME, MD, NJ, NY)
PINNACLE IMPORTS (MO)
QUENCH FINE WINES (AZ)
SCALE WINE GROUP (CA)
THE WINE POOR (MI)
VICTORY WINE GROUP (TX)