Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards & Winery, having entered its twenty-sixth year of wine tasting and sales, might be considered a youngster in this industry. But 25 years of retail doesn't do justice to the history and experience of the Hazlitt clan. Viticulture has been the life-blood of the family for 158 years. On April 1, 1852 David Hazlitt purchased 153 acres in the hamlet of Hector including most of present day Peach Orchard Point. The property's fruit trees and vineyards provided regionally sold produce that the Hazlitts shipped via wagon, boat, and the ever-expanding railroad. Six generations later the Hazlitt legacy continues at the most popular winery in the Finger Lakes region!
The late Jerry Hazlitt and his wife Elaine founded the winery in 1985. Jerry was an ardent home winemaker and wanted to share the fruits of his labor with friends and visitors. His love of the Finger Lakes, antiquities, and native lore made for many wonderful Saturday afternoon gatherings around the original tasting room bar sipping wine and being mesmerized by Jerry's animated storytelling.
Now one of the Top 25 Tasting Rooms in the United States according to the May 2008 issue of the Wine Enthusiast Magazine, the Hazlitt tasting room, including the famous horseshoe bar, provides a relaxing visit for those who enjoy their wine with stories, laughter and smiles. This casual approach affords visitors an opportunity to spend a little more time learning about wine in an informal atmosphere without intimidation. With its picnic tables, sparkling ponds and rolling horse pastures, the winery property also invites people to enjoy the region’s quiet charm.
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards was named the Conservation Farm of the Year for 2009. The award recognizes farmers who have demonstrated a long-standing commitment to conservation and sustainable farming technique. Among agricultural methods that led to this award Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards was one of the first farms in the region to develop a nutrient management plan. The Hazlitts also practice integrated pest management and use cover crops in their vineyard rows and headland areas to prevent soil erosion and reduce pesticide and nutrient runoff. Vineyard Manager John Santos is also renowned in the area for his compost piles. He combines grape pomace with horse manure and even employee lunchroom scraps, and we return our own rich compost to the fields. The Hazlitts have always recognized that they are stewards of the land. The business was “green” before “green” was in style. “Just like my father, grandfather and great grandfathers did for their children, I am doing the right things to keep this land in farming and to be a good neighbor,” said Doug Hazlitt. “Protecting soil and water is just good business; we make our living from the land and we care about protecting our soil and water resources for future generations.”
Among the many award-winning estate-grown vinifera wines, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards is best known for its Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Cabernet Franc. Of those, the world-class Hazlitt Rieslings have achieved the highest awards and most notability from judges and journalists. The soil and climate of Seneca Lake provides ideal growing conditions for the Riesling grapes, and the Hazlitt team is producing some of the finest wines in the world.
Hazlitt’s is also the home of the world-famous Red Cat; the number one selling domestic wine in the state of New York. Produced from the native American Catawba grape, Red Cat is a sweeter fruit-forward wine and a great choice with pizza, wings and nachos. Known as the original hot tub wine, the legend of Red Cat began with Jerry Hazlitt’s sons. Re-known for their gracious hospitality with the fairer gender, the boys used to borrow some of Dad’s grape juice when they hosted social events on Seneca Lake. These now-legendary parties usually involved a big bonfire and a homemade hot tub. It came to their attention that as Red Cat was consumed, less apparel was worn in the hot tub. Thus the original hot tub wine was born. During your visit be sure to ask your bartender about HHJ and the famous Red Cat toast.
While the building is a little bigger than the day the doors opened in 1985, the spirit has remained the same. The staff can usually be found smiling and joking with customers at the horseshoe bar. The smiles are genuine. There are few better places to work and learn. Their philosophies align with the family’s goal of growing and bottling amazing wine and not shrouding the product in mystery and the snobbery often associated with the wine world. Sit, relax and enjoy great wines and great times.
Arrive as a guest. Leave as a friend. Because now you’re a part of the Hazlitt story!