Helen Keplinger winemaking


The culture of wine has been a part of my life since I can remember. My dad had a wine cellar, which was the source of my childhood wine bottle collection — I also collected rocks, an early indication of my future as a winegrower. Wine accompanied every gourmet dinner my mom prepared nightly; this combination of food and wine was an important part of our family evenings together and social gatherings, and ignited a connection to and interest in that remained with me and only grew stronger with time.

I always had an intense curiosity for science, a huge appreciation of art, and a gravitation toward and revitalization in nature — all which dynamically come together in winemaking. In 1998, I moved to California to attend the MS program in Enology at UC Davis. After completing the program at UC Davis, I apprenticed under Heidi Barrett at Paradigm, and Kathy Joseph at Fiddlehead before moving to Spain to make wine for Cellers Melis in the Priorat. This experience had the greatest impact on me as a winemaker, and it is in the Priorat where I gained an enormous appreciation for minute changes in terroir and the results they imprint on the wines made from a particular site.

Over many years now, I have continued to hone this artisanal craft, with tenures at Kenzo Estate, Arrow & Branch, and Bryant Family Vineyard, and working with Michel Rolland, Claude Gros, and David Abreu which have had an influence in further developing my philosophies and practices. I find wines are more unique, nuanced, and captivating when they have a clear connection to a vineyard, sense of place, and hallmark of a vintage, and that thoughtful work in the vineyard and winery always shows in the wines. I continue to fine tune my winemaking practices, and better my understanding of each vineyard block and how to best harness its expression each year.

In addition to Keplinger and Vermillion, I am privileged to have been making the incredible wines of Grace Family Vineyards, Carte Blanche Wine, and Kerr Cellars for over 10 vintages. I aim to honor what is unique about each rather than painting with a broad stroke, for it is in the differences and authenticity of each that they will see their full potential.

I absolutely love what I do — I constantly strive to make great wines, and respect that each wine is a reflection not only of its origin, but the variables and characteristics of a particular vintage.

Helen Keplinger