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Hazlitt produces first wine in Naples

NAPLES—Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards’ Red Cat Cellars in Naples has produced and bottled its first wine on March 1.
Brad Phillips, director of marketing for Hazlitt, said the winery took full ownership of the former Widmer Winery at the start of this year. Hazlitt purchased the Naples facility from Constellation Brands, Inc. in September of 2010. However, Phillips said Hazlitt started renovations to the pressing room in April. He added Hazlitt brought in new crusher and stemmer equipment, including pouring a new press area.
Grapes from the 2010 harvest were sent to Hazlitt’s new Red Cat Cellars for the first batch of wine in September. There the grapes were juiced using the new equipment. Phillips said most of the bottling equipment was already there, and in use by Constellation until Hazlitt took full control in January 2011. He said the bottling equipment only had to be adjusted for Hazlitt’s bottles and labels.
With production underway, Phillips said Hazlitt is now in full control of making its wine, from growing the grapes to bottling. The new facility also employs 14 workers. Red Cat Cellars is producing the Red Cat wine it is named after, White Cat, Cabin Fever and Bramble Berry. It was the Red Cat wine itself that first came off of the new facility’s bottling line, March 1. Phillips said the decision of which wines to produce at the Naples location was based on what the consumer was demanding.
“We’re excited to be in Naples,” said Phillips. “We’ve been well received by the town.”
Naples even sponsored Hazlitt in seeking Community Development Block Grant funding from the New York State Office of Community Renewal. As of September of last year, OCR had approved $250,000 in funding.
For now Hazlitt’s Red Cat Cellars is just producing wine. Phillips explained the facility is not even open for operation during the entire week. He said it is Hazlitt’s intention to eventually offer wine tastings at the Naples location. The Rochester Institute of Technology also said it intends to work with Hazlitt and Red Cat Cellars to create appropriate educational programming for the university’s technology programs, sustainability efforts, and its School of Hospitality and Service Management.