Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards Review
Address: 5712 State Route 414 Hector,New York 14841.
Phone Number: 607-546-9463
Tasting Hours: Jun 1-Nov 1: Mon-Sat 10:00-5:30, Sun 11:00-5:30; Nov 1-May 31: Mon-Sat 10:00-5:00, Sun 11:00-5:00
Region: Finger Lakes AVA, Seneca Lake AVA, New York
Reviewer: Julie Grice
Review Date: 3/9/2013
Reviewer: Julie Grice
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, home of the infamous Red Cat wine, is located on the southeastern edge of Seneca Lake.
The Place  Hazlitt 1852 is a deceptively large building, split into a tasting room, gift shop and performance area. Despite the size, the interior is cozy, making the tasting room feel more crowded than it actually is. Painted paw prints on the signs both indoors and out point to Hazlitts best-known wine. There are several bars in the tasting room, including a beautiful horseshoe-shaped bar, and the air smells of popcorn. A sign on the door indicates that dogs are welcome.
The Experience  When you arrive at the tasting room, a staff member will direct you to the least busy bar. It feels a little formal for the winery known for its party atmosphere, but it does ensure that every group gets equal attention from the servers. The staff will greet you with a bowl of buttery popcorn and a menu. If youre lucky, youll arrive just in time to hear a particularly rowdy group of tasters sing the Red Cat chant.
$5 will get you six pours of wine and a $3 coupon for the gift shop. For an additional $3, you can also taste all three dry red wines available. Unfortunately, while the service was quick and friendly, the gentleman pouring our wines wasnt offering up much information about the wines we were tasting, only telling us what he considered to be good and a little information about the flavor of each wine while we tasted, but not sharing much else that wasnt already printed on the menu.
The Wines  Hazlitt is known for their Red Cat, a sweet and juicy Catawba-Baco Noir blend, and their White Cat, a clean and refreshing Niagara. The rest of their semisweet and blush wines are tasty in their own way, but their dry and semi-dry wines are unremarkable. For instance, the 2010 Gewurztraminer is floral and fruity, but while it has an 88 rating from Wine Enthusiast, it doesnt stand much above the other Gewurztraminers from the Finger Lakes region. If youre going to visit other Finger Lakes wineries, skip the dry whites and reds at Hazlitt and stick to the wines on the sweeter end of the spectrum.
Extras  If you are visiting on a Saturday in the summer or fall, give yourself some time to visit the Tiki Tent after your tasting, or even in lieu of your tasting. There, you can order wine by the glass, slushies made with Red Cat or Bramble Berry wine, White Cat on the Beach cocktails and snacks. There is plenty of space to relax in the large picnic area while listening to music and slurping your slushies.
The gift shop is more extensive than most, offering mini bottles of wine, Red Cat paraphernalia and wine accessories. Full-sized bottles of wine can be purchased at the check-out area.
Insiders Tips  If youre looking to learn about Finger Lakes wine or taste some of the excellent dry whites the area is known for, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards probably isnt the place for you. But if youre looking for a fun experience, enjoy sweeter wines, or want to unwind after a long day of wine tasting, visit Hazlitt and give their White and Red Cats a try.