“From the time I was born I was surrounded by vines,” says Kelly Urbanik, head winemaker at Macari Vineyards, in Mattituck.
It’s no exaggeration. Urbanik, a Napa Valley native, was introduced to the art of winemaking as a child.
“My grandfather had a small vineyard and as a kid I helped him and my father take care of the vineyard,” she says. “We made small batches of wine from the fruit. My brother and I loved punching down the fermenting grapes and sticking our hands into the warm juice as it bubbled away. I have so many wonderful memories of those times.”
After studying viticulture and oenology at the University of California-Davis, Urbanik took a chance on the East Coast and moved to Long Island, where she became winemaker at Cutchogue’s Bedell Cellars in 2008. She has been head winemaker at Macari Vineyards since 2010.
Q: What is your winemaking philosophy?
A: My goal is always to make wines that are complex, delicious, and show their sense of place. The Macari family has dedicated their efforts to the land and development of the soils in the vineyard. We have an amazing amount of biodiversity in the vineyards. I want this vibrancy and sense of life to be expressed in the wines.
Q: What’s your favorite white grape?
A: Sauvignon blanc. I love the way the fruit tastes in the vineyard, the way it smells when it is fermenting, and, of course, it makes a delicious wine. Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect wine to pair with all of the fresh, local seafood we get on the North Fork.
Q: And your favorite red grape?
A: Pinot noir, which is notoriously difficult to grow but makes some of the most amazing wines in the world.
Q: What advice can you offer wine drinkers?
A: Don’t be intimidated by wine, don’t be afraid to try new wines, and don’t let anybody tell you what you should like. Trust your own palate.
GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Kelly Urbanik, head winemaker at Macari Vineyards, sits among the casks in the Mattituck winery’s barrel room.