In 1984, the late Jerry Hazlitt and his wife, Elaine, founded Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards in the same hamlet on Seneca Lake where Jerry’s 19th-century ancestors shipped grapes and peaches by boat, wagon and railroad.
Yet even before the first plank was cut for the winery’s now-signature horseshoe-shaped bar, Hazlitt was making a fruity Catawba wine in a wooden tub on his driveway.
The couple’s sons served some early samples of that wine at a springtime hot tub bash, leading Red Cat to become and remain the winery’s best-selling product. Red Cat recipes, merchandise and even a bawdy chant have followed.
Still, those who prefer dry vinifera wine have reason to visit. The options range from Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon to Riesling and Pinot Gris.
Tasting room hours: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, from June 1 to Nov. 1. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, from Nov. 2 to May 31. Reservations required for groups of eight or more.
Accessibility: Fully accessible.
Tasting fee: $5 for six samples; an additional charge to sample a flight of premier reds. The $3 coupon issued after the tasting may be applied toward wine or a gift shop item valued at $5 or more.
Amenities: Free popcorn. Veterans and active-duty military receive free tastings and 5 percent off purchases. Leashed dogs welcome.
The winery also does tastings at Hazlitt’s Red Cat Cellars, 1 Lake Niagara Lane in Naples, Ontario County, during the same hours as the Hector tasting room. Reservations required for groups of eight or more. Groups larger than 12 accommodated Monday through Thursday, though exceptions sometimes made.
MEGAN DAILOR File photo 2005
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards building.