SAN SABA, Texas, January 10, 2018 – Wedding Oak Winery has hired Seth Urbanek as assistant winemaker. Urbanek, a Texas native, is responsible for cellar management and assisting with all aspects of production working with head winemaker and viticulturist, Penny Adams, and her winemaking team.
Urbanek brings extensive research skills and winemaking talent to Wedding Oak Winery. He has experience in making both new world and old world wines, with stints at Sheldrake Point Winery, Ovid, NY, MollyDooker Winery in McLaren Vale, South Australia, and Champagne Bollinger, Aÿ, France.
“I was bitten by the wine bug at an early age,” says Seth Urbanek. “After I graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in International Relations, I spent a semester in France. While there, I fell in love with wine and knew I wanted to work in the wine industry. I temporarily put my winemaking aspirations on hold while serving a term in the U.S. Army.”
Urbanek was commissioned as second lieutenant, serving two tours in Afghanistan, and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in recognition of his service contributions to the U.S. Army. He concluded his service as a Captain at Fort Drum, NY.
During his time at Fort Drum, he began to engage with several of the up and coming producers in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. After his tenure in the service, he was able to parlay those relationships into a job as part of the vineyard management team at Sheldrake Point Winery.
That experience led to a thirst for deeper understanding of the science behind wine. Urbanek pursued a Master of Science degree in Food Science and Technology, with concentration in Enology, at Cornell University. In that program he conducted research that explores advances in yeast metabolism during fermentation.
He pursued additional hands-on winemaking experience by taking a semester off from Cornell to work at MollyDooker Winery in South Australia as a laboratory technician and cellar hand. Most recently, Urbanek worked a three-month internship through the champagne harvest at Champagne Bollinger in France. A perk to the job was to take advantage of this expert palate to evaluate wines from a portion of the 3,500 barrels that make up the 2017 vintage.
“As the winery continues to grow and mature, we have made important hires to strengthen our team in essential areas of the business,” says Mike McHenry, managing partner. “Hiring Seth to support Penny is part of our strategic plan to continue to produce high-quality wines with Texas grown grapes. We look forward to integrating his talents into the team.”
Urbanek says, “I had not considered my home state of Texas as part of my winemaking career, but I was amazed at the quality of Texas wines when I was exposed to them at an industry conference. After a short conversation with Penny Adams, the winemaker at Wedding Oak Winery, I knew that we would be able to work together to produce quality wines from Texas fruit. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to work with Wedding Oak Winery to make stellar wines here in the Lone Star State.”
“We’re thrilled to have Seth on the Wedding Oak winemaking team,” says Penny Adams. “We both see winemaking as a two-fold approach of art and science. Seth’s scientific background is a great complement to my own academically influenced style.”
Urbanek is a Houston native, a graduate of St. Thomas Episcopal High School and Texas A&M University. He holds a certified proficiency in French language from Centre Universitaire d’Etudes Francaises, Grenoble, France, and a Master of Science degree in Enology at Cornell University.
About Wedding Oak Winery
Wedding Oak Winery was established in May 2012 by viticulturist Mike McHenry and a group of friends with the passion to bring the burgeoning Texas wine industry to the heart of small town Texas. The historic 1926 tasting room and 10,000 case winery, located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 190 and State Highway 16, is a central part of the renaissance of San Saba. Wedding Oak Winery takes its inspiration and name from the majestic, 400-year-old oak tree, known as the Wedding Oak Tree, which grows about 2.5 miles northwest from the winery. With the opening of its second location at Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, Wedding Oak Winery offers to Texas-grown wines of distinction from the top of the Hill Country appellation in San Saba to the heart of Wine Road 290. Wedding Oak Winery embodies the casual beauty, friendly personalities and relaxing hospitality that defines small town Texas, and is committed to making Texas wines that celebrate our Texas terroir and wine-growing conditions. Connect with Wedding Oak Winery on our blog, on Facebook, on Instagram and on Twitter.