A New Winemaker for Bryant

Helen Keplinger tabbed to oversee the Cabernet star
Mar 2, 2011

One down, one to go: Bryant Family has tapped Helen Keplinger as its new winemaker. That leaves the job at Screaming Eagle as the other high-profile opening in Napa Valley.

Bryant hiring Keplinger is a move that should not only sustain the esteemed Cabernet producer's track record for great wines, but could also add a measure of stability and vitality for the winery.

Bryant Family hasn't exactly been a revolving door, but it has had its share of big-name winemakers come and go. Helen Turley set Bryant on its early pace; she and her husband, John Wetlaufer, planted the Pritchard Hill vineyard in the early 1990s. Michel Rolland, Philippe Melka and Mark Aubert have also had their hands in winemaking.

It also is a huge boost for Keplinger, who was already one of California's rising star winemakers. This should only solidify her winemaking credentials, provided she stays long enough to put her imprint on the wines. I think she will. She has the right personality and ability. I imagine owner Donald Bryant would like to have a young, talented winemaker oversee winemaking for an extended stay rather than looking for a new one every couple of years.

I imagine too that Keplinger, 38, might have been on the short list for the job at Screaming Eagle as well. When you taste the purity and dimension of her Keplinger wines it's apparent she knows what she is doing.

Andy Erickson resigned as Screaming Eagle's winemaker late last year and there have been plenty of rumors about who owner Stan Kroenke would bring in. The vineyard in Oakville has been replanted and Kroenke has a newly completed winery awaiting the new hire.

United States California Napa

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