The Macari winemaking team is led by Head Winemaker Kelly Urbanik Koch 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 and has since been honored with many winemaking awards and recognitions including 90+ points from Wine Spectator, medals from the New York Wine and Food Classic (including best in category), medals from the International Woman’s Wine Competition and honors from Decanter and Wine Enthusiast magazines. She was proud to lead Macari Vineyards to “Winery of the Year” honors from the New York Wine & Grape Foundation in 2014.
What are the unique characteristics of your winemaking style?
My winemaking style is to be as unobtrusive as possible – allowing the wine to be what it wants to be depending on the vintage conditions. This means less intervention and less new oak. I love vintage variation and think it should be celebrated and appreciated.
The Long Island Wine industry is a young, up-and-coming region, with a rich history behind it and a bright future ahead. I am very excited for the opportunity to make wine in this region during such a pivotal time of growth, development and experimentation.
Describe the relationship between the Long Island wine community and the agriculture, aquaculture and overall East End culinary culture.
I love the local bounty of fresh foods which pair so well with Long Island wines. Peconic Bay oysters with local sauvignon blanc is the classic example, but there are plenty of other types of seafood, meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and more which are grown or made locally. We are lucky to have many talented chefs on the East End who are able to create a beautiful marriage of these ingredients.
It is also exciting to see the growth in the craft beer and cider scene out here. As most winemakers agree, “it takes lots of good beer (or cider….and especially coffee!) to make great wine!”
In your opinion, which foods are paired best with the wines of Long Island?
There is a well-known phrase “if it grows together it goes together”, and this is especially true on the North Fork with our wines and local foods. One of my favorite pairings is our Macari Chardonnay Estate (stainless steel fermented) paired with fresh blackfish that my husband caught just a hour or two earlier.
What Long Island wine would you recommend to someone just discovering the region?
For someone just discovering the region, the wines that I would recommend would be Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Franc. These wines do very well in our climate and are great introductions to our local terroir.
What are your passions outside of wine?
The outdoors, sports, travel, and music.
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