Dick Grace, founder and proprietor of Grace Family Vineyards, has named Helen Keplinger as the winery’s new winemaker. Keplinger joins the family-owned winery, considered by many to be California’s first “cult” winery, to carry on Grace’s vision for producing world-class wines combining quality, craft and appreciation for the land.
“We were determined to find a winemaker who was well-traveled, widely experienced and an excellent fit for the winery,” explains Grace. “Helen is extremely talented and brings a new perspective that will steer the winery into the future, while remaining a careful steward of its heritage.”
“For me, every detail matters,” Keplinger comments. “I’m looking forward to insuring that the voice of this historic and unique estate is expressed as purely as possible in the wines.”
Named “Winemaker of the Year” by Food & Wine Magazine in 2012, Keplinger is widely considered one of California’s rising stars and recognized as one of very few American winemakers who have also worked extensively in Europe. Known for making extraordinary wines in unassuming regions, she spent three years in the Priorat region of Spain at Cellers Melis, returning to California to launch her own label, Keplinger Wines. In the Napa Valley her experience includes work for Bryant Family Vineyard, Kenzo Estate, Arrow & Branch, Sarocka and Scully. With a perspective shaped by her travels, Keplinger’s philosophy is making classically structured wines that reflect their origins. She holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Enology from the University of California, Davis and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Smith College.
Keplinger will direct the production of three wines, the Grace Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, from the estate vineyard surrounding the winery in St. Helena, and Blank Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Grace Family clone grown by the Blank family in Rutherford. She will also steward the winemaking for Lynn and Kirk Grace’s project, Wise Acre Vineyard, now in its fourth vintage at Grace Family Vineyards, and collaborate with vineyard manager Kirk Grace in the ongoing organic viticultural protocols for the three acres of estate vineyard that are planted entirely to the Bosché clone of Cabernet Sauvignon.
About Grace Family Vineyards
Grace Family Vineyards was founded in 1976 when Dick and Ann Grace purchased the St. Helena property and its 1881 Victorian home, relocating with their three children to Napa Valley. That same year, they carefully moved the olive trees on the front acre, replanted with Cabernet Sauvignon Bosché clone, and became one of the first in the valley to implement high density vine planting and organic farm management.
In 1978, the inaugural harvest was picked by family and friends, and the debut vintage at $25/bottle was, at that time, the most expensive wine from the Napa Valley, second-most in all of California.The estate is known as one of Napa Valley’s most iconic and prestigious properties, with its beautifully restored Victorian home, winery, organic gardens, sculptures and art from the family’s frequent travels to China and Tibet. Dick and Ann Grace are internationally respected as humanitarians and philanthropists; they created the Grace Family Foundation which provides education, medical care and hope to children around the world. The winery is open to members of its mailing list only, and the Grace family frequently opens their doors for charitable events.