CLEVELAND - A Canton native is taking the wine world by storm in the Napa Valley.
Napa Valley winemaker Helen Keplinger was nervous about what her parents would say. This budding young soon-to-be-medical doctor and Canton Glen Oak grad was about to change the course of her life forever.
Instead of medicine, she wanted to make wine. "I had to tell my dad that I wanted to enroll at UC Davis and study winemaking."
Instead of disappointment, her parents were excited.
"My dad told me he would be just as proud to see my name in Wine Spectator Magazine rather than any medical publication," she recalled.
That was 1997. It only took her only 10 years to achieve rock-star winemaker status in the Napa Valley wine world. She has been making wine under the Keplinger label since 2006 and already has garnered international attention. Her unique blends of Grenache, Mourvèdre & Syrah have garnered 90+ point scores from Wine Spectator and other prominent wine magazines - no easy task for those temperamental grapes.
"I want my wines to be complex, & refined. Beautiful on the palette but not monolithic," Keplinger said.
With a graduate degree in Oenology in hand, Keplinger started her rise at the famous Mumm Napa Winery. That's where her reputation began to grow. From there, she became assistant winemaker at the much-sought after Bryant Family Winery. Former winemakers there include the likes of Helen Turley & Phillipe Melka, both wine-making legends. She left Bryant Family last fall to concentrate on her increasingly popular wine brand, Keplinger, currently in on its fifth vintage.
"You can't make wine with just science," she said. "Science, art and nature combine to make great wines."
Most of Keplinger's wine sales come from word of mouth. She produced 800 cases last year. Already she is in talks with other wineries to be a consulting winemaker. Still, she loves her Ohio roots.
"Canton is a part of who I am," she said. "There are so many great friends there that I still stay in touch with."
You can order Keplinger Wines here: Keplinger Wines