Wednesday, January 01, 2014



There’s been a lot of marriage talk going on.

Kelly Urbanik is the classic girl next store. Young. Pretty. Lanky. With a great, great smile. She is tall, thin, athletic. Great eyes. Long brown hair. She’s almost like a model. Healthy. Comfortable in her own skin. Her daily uniform is a t-shirt and jeans. Maybe a hoodie to go with it? But don’t let those looks fool you. She is no push over. Kelly is a killer. She is a passionate, focused, dedicated winemaker. She knows her stuff. And she is not good at what she does – she’s very good. And she is getting better. She is in love with her industry and her craft. She is absolutely dedicated in her zeal to make great wine. Her recent wedding this last September was a perfect example.
“When Kelly Urbanik, winemaker for Macari Vineyards in Mattituck, was planning the most important day of her life, she knew she wanted to be surrounded by family. And that's why she decided to hold her wedding in the Macari vineyard, surrounded by relatives and friends who are as close as family in a place that resonates with deep meaning,” wrote Lisa Finn in the North Fork Patch on September 9, 2013. “Urbanik, 32, who married her longtime love Rob Koch on Saturday, said the pair dated for six years before getting engaged in December.”

Kelly Urbanik is from St. Helena, California. Kelly’s love of wine stems from early childhood, growing up closely connected to vineyards in her hometown. From a young age, she worked on her grandfather’s vineyard and enjoyed making homemade wine with her father and grandfather. Kelly received a Bachelor of Science degree from University of California, Davis in Viticulture and Enology with a minor in French. She has worked at a number of prestigious wineries including Beringer in California and Maison Louis Jadot in France under the tutelage of legendary winemaker Jacques Lardière. Kelly arrived to the North Fork of Long Island in 2006. She became winemaker at Macari on 2010. Joe Macari and the family brought in some consultants to back her up. She’s got some exceptional people she can rely for ideas, advice, and information. But Kelly is no wallflower.

"I moved here to try a different region and to see what it was like, making wine on the East Coast," she told Finn. Rob Koch her husband is a mechanical engineer and avid fisherman. The happy couple met in a local North Fork volleyball league. Kelly wanted to be married during the start of the harvest season. "It's my favorite time of year," she added. "We wanted to do it in the fall but not too late in the season, because I'd be too busy at work."

According to Finn, the Marcari family offered to hold the wedding at the vineyard. Kelly was thrilled. Flowers were everywhere. There were winery workers, interns, friends, and family – hers, his, and the Macari’s. "There's a special connection to the winery — and to the family," Urbanik said.

I saw Kelly just a month later. Rob and she had a short honeymoon….a few days, and then she went back to work. It was the harvest season after all. How can you not love this woman?!

My favorite part of the wedding story was that as she was planning her wedding by night and weekend, but she was completely redoing the winery inside during the work week, trading out more than a dozen and a half tanks, and bringing in cement egg fermenters. It was a major undertaking just before the harvest happened. Then there was a wedding. And then there was harvest!
When I came to visit, the transformation was complete. She showed me around her new tanks and equipment like a little kid shows off their new Christmas or birthday presents. She was proud and giddy. She bounced from tank to tank. But what was really interesting was that her chatter wasn’t about the tanks themselves. It was about the wine.
Kelly was very happy with her wines, as she described the different techniques and processes she had used between one wine and then another. All she could talk about the natural techniques she was using, maceration times, and about the fruit quality at time of picking. And that is the real part of Kelly’s charm that absolutely comes through – she is a wine geek, and proud of it! And her pride, zeal, and excitement are infectious!

While I was there, I tasted two examples from Macari Vineyards. The tasting notes were incredibly rich, and detailed. 
The first was Sauvignon Blanc No. 1 2012. According to the tasting notes, “For this wine, the Sauvignon Blanc grape juice was skin fermented, a technique used normally to extract color, flavor and tannins for red wine making.  Half the batch was skin fermented in a 500L Barrel and the other half, left on the skins for one night in a stainless steel tank.” That’s geek talk right there….and I love it!!!!!! The wine? Oh yeah, it was awesome! Big, huge citrus notes of lemon and lime, with hints of honeydew, mango, and cantaloupe. Very round and full and fruity up front, with a nice big yellow grapefruit ending. A nice, zippy, refreshing white wine. Elegant, balanced. Delicious!!!!
The next was a 2010 Bergen Road. This is Macari’s flagship red blend made only in premium vintages. This is a big tasty Meritage which they have been making at Macari for some time now. It is one of the stalwart classic Meritages of Long Island, and has long been one of my favorites.  The 2010 vintage is made from 56% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot. This is an exceptional wine. Blends, to my mind, almost always are! This is no exception. Big notes of dark red fruits of raspberry, black berry, and cherry in a deep, purple stew. Hints of spices, cocoa, and vanilla. This is a complex wine, with excellent balance. The fruit is almost overwhelming at first, but balanced by nice tannins and a good long finish by acidity that has not been over powered. The finish on the palate is rounded by oak and time in the bottle. Elegant. Intense. Beautiful. Impressive.

Macari has been one of the back bones of wine making on Long Island since the mid-1990s. So that why I am so interested in this marriage. But the marriage I am interested in is of Kelly and Macari – I am hoping will have one of those fairytale endings where they are together a good long time and make lots of beautiful little babies just like these two little bottles...they lived happily ever after.

There is no doubt that Kelly has joined the upper echelon of winemakers in the North Fork.

After that…sorry Rob, you’re on your own! Congrats to Kelly, her crew, and the Macari’s! Here’s to a happy ending.