Wonder Women: 10 female California winemakers to watch

Helen Keplinger

3 Helen KeplingerOne of California’s most promising rising stars, Helen Keplinger developed a passion for wine at a young age, learning from her wine lover father, who gave her his empty bottles to collect. A love of geology also saw the young Keplinger collecting rocks – a sign of things to come in her future career as a winemaker, which began after she attained an oenology degree from UC Davis.

She cut her teeth alongside Heidi Peterson Barrett at Paradigm, where she worked her way up to become assistant winemaker, and has since chalked up stints at Cellers Melis in Priorat, Fort Ross, Sarocka, Scully, Arrow & Branch and Bryant Family Vineyards. Uniting with Peterson Barrett again in 2005 at Kenzo Estate, Keplinger’s latest project is her debut solo venture, Keplinger Wines, where she makes tiny quantities of a dozen different single-vineyard wines made from Rhône varieties sourced from all over California.

Describing wine as “an ever-changing time capsule”, Keplinger is clearly in love with her job. “Art, science and nature all come together dynamically in winemaking. I strive to make pure wines of power and grace that have a clear voice of terroir and vintage by responding to the curveballs of Mother Nature,” she says. Aspiring to run her own vineyard and winery, for now Keplinger is most proud of the 2007 vintage of her 100% Grenache called ‘N=1’, which she describes as “seamless, complex and beautiful – a unique treasure of the vintage.”

9 Responses to “Wonder Women: 10 female California winemakers to watch”

  1. Very enjoyable and thorough article, but am surprised you missed Bibiana González Rave, winemaker for Wayfarer and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Winemaker of the Year.

  2. Steve Bslmutj says:

    How did you leave off Jordan Fiorentini from Epoch.

  3. Sandra Roberts says:

    Missed one…Danielle Cyrot. Cade Estata, Howell Mtn

  4. Kent Benson says:

    Didn’t know WSET ever had “sommelier” exams. Might want to double check that. First paragraph of Terrizzi profile.

  5. Kent Benson says:

    Re Barrett profile: Since the topic is winemakers, give credit where credit is due. The person who “made” the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay was Mike Grgich.

  6. Penny Gadd-Coster is a winemaker in Sonoma County who won “Winemaker of the Year” in 2013 in the inaugural Wine Industry Awards, a great achievement considering contenders were from the entire Napa, Sonoma and greater Bay Area winemaking regions! She’s also won over 30 Best of Class, Best of Show, Sweepstakes, Gold medals and 90+ point ratings for four wines in the past few years!

  7. Bob Kugler says:

    You missed Signe Zoller at 72 years young, graduated from Davis with a MS in enology chemistry. Founding winemaker for Jess at Kendal Jackson and now winemaker for AVE.

  8. Nice article, and I’m sure we all have additions to make. Mine are Milla Handley of Handley Cellars in Anderson Valley and Shauna Rosenblum of Rock Wall Wine Co.

  9. Carlos Rodda says:

    Agree with Kent above, it was made by WINEMAKER Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, winery was OWNED by the Barretts!

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