Winemaker, Kerr Cellars
Helen Keplinger always loved rocks, dirt, art, science, and being outdoors – all which dynamically come together in winemaking.
After graduating from Smith College, she moved to California in 1998 to attend the MS program in Enology at UC Davis. Since UC Davis, she has worked with Heidi Barrett, Kathy Joseph, Claude Gros, Michel Rolland, and David Abreu. Since 2004, she has made wine for Cellers Melis (Priorat, Spain), Kenzo Estate, Arrow & Branch, Bryant Family Vineyards, and is currently the Winemaker for Kerr Cellars, Waterfall, Carte Blanche and Grace Family Vineyard and the Consulting Enologist at Force Majeure in Washington.
In 2006, Helen launched Keplinger Wines in Napa Valley, with a focus on small production, single vineyard Rhone varietals wines. Upon the first release, her husband, DJ Warner, joined the winery to help manage the business side of Keplinger. 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 inspired story by James Laube. She was also awarded a Smith College Medal in 2017 for excellence in her field.
Now also making Cabernet Sauvignon under her own label in addition to her Rhone varietal wines, Keplinger focuses on making seamlessly-crafted, terroir-driven wines from distinctive and diverse sites in Napa, Sonoma and the Sierra Foothills. All the vineyards are hillside or mountain sites, carefully farmed in collaboration with Keplinger for health, balance, and the highest quality. The wines are made in small lots, with close attention paid to every detail.
Keplinger constantly strives to make unique wines that are expressions of their vineyards and vintages. Today, production of ten boutique cuvees totals 1,800 cases, with a single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from the Oakville AVA has been added to the line up in 2014.
Country born: USA
Education: UC Davis MS Enology
Years in the wine industry: 20-30 years
Honors / Awards:
Smith College Award for Excellence in her field
Winemaker of the Year 2012 Food and Wine
Seamlessly crafted, terroir-driven wines from distinctive and diverse sites in Napa, Sonoma and the Sierra Foothills.