John Catalano - Winemaker
John “FatCat” Catalano leads our winemaking team. His 15 years of experience include producing distinctive wines from both Texas and California as well as vineyard establishment and management. John is enrolled in both Viticulture and Enology programs at Texas Tech University. John’s approach is to dig deep into understanding the soil, climate, and the varietal fit for what Bent Oak wants to produce for our customers. This means getting out into the vineyards, something that John loves to do. After all, good wines start from good grapes and to understand that you need to practice vineyard enology; wine making up front!
John first dove into the fermentation arts by brewing beer…there is an old adage in making quality wines: “It takes a lot of beer to make good wine!” John used his knowledge of brewing and fermentation science to also learn to make wine and that soon expanded into growing grapes. He has been growing different grape varietals and producing wines for over 15 years using his own grapes as well as other grapes brought in from Texas and California. While California’s comparatively benign climate yields a certain predictability harvest to harvest, Texas can show unusual extremes that bedevil even the most skilled winemaker…a challenge that John has taken to heart.
Audrey Catalano - Hospitality
Audrey “Chard Girl” Catalano leads our hospitality and wine quality assurance team and an avid wine lover. Audrey is known for her talents in decorating and one look around our reception area and winery will readily demonstrate that. Audrey is also enrolled in several Enology and Wine Marketing classes through Texas Tech.
Marilee Catalano - Media and Operations
After 42 years of professional engineering and IT leadership, Marilee Catalano is enjoying the role of support person in an industry outside her area of expertise. She puts her technical project management skills to good use organizing events and managing the company’s website. Marilee also is responsible for direct to consumer shipping licensing for states outside of Texas.
Debbie Bruce - Chief Financial Officer
Debbie "The Map” aka “Wildcat" Bruce provides back office support managing the financial and compliance aspects of the winery as well as automation. In addition to her 30+ years of Program/Project Management, Enterprise Project Management Office, Information Technology, and Accounting/Financial Management experience, Debbie is currently enrolled in the Sonoma State University Wine Business Finance & Accounting Certificate Program to help us navigate the intricacies of accounting in the wine industry.
Not only is she passionate about wine, she is equally passionate about finding automated ways to make our jobs easier and is planning to innovate and automate Bent Oak in the coming months and years. Her late night development ideas are typically inspired by a fine glass of wine.