Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars, part of the Hazlitt family wine production holdings, is celebrating 10 years in business and its benefit to the workforce and economic growth in the Naples community.
The expansive facility is now home to multiple businesses. These include East Coast Crush and Co-Pack, Hazlitt’s custom beverage production services company, as well as an on-site retail and tasting room, a brewery, and a recreational hiking trail.
In 2011, at the time of purchase, the facility employed 14 people (full-time equivalents) and was producing wine at just a fraction of its full capacity. Along with significant investments by the Hazlitt family, Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars received an economic development grant from New York State that was administered through the Ontario County Economic Development office. As specified by the grant, the funds were used specifically to increase opportunities for the local workforce.
Currently, the company employs 53 full-time employees with an additional 10-12 at any time as temporary hires.
“One of the requirements of the grant was to reach a total of 26 full-time positions in the first 10 years. We reached that number within our third year!” said Leigh Hazlitt Triner, Co-CEO. “That’s a true success by anyone’s measure.” She added. “Naples is now home to us. We care about the success of this area. We care about the people.”
“We are very excited to be part of the ongoing growth and success of the community.” said company President Dan DeBell. “We knew that purchasing the facility was a bit of a leap of faith on the part of the Hazlitt family 10 years ago. Their flagship brands, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, and Red Cat wines needed a larger production facility to match market demands. But it was still a big gamble financially. It was really great that both Ontario County and New York State were able to lend a hand. Our success is their success.” He went on, “Even more importantly, we’ve been able to contribute to the local economy by adding, and keeping, employees in good jobs. Especially, throughout the challenges of the last two years.”
As a long-time advocate and leader of organizations that strive to expand job opportunities, Lynn Freid, Executive Director of the Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board (FLWIB) added “This is a great example of private–public partnership opportunity in this region. The strength of local business with strong ties to local community agencies with sustainable careers and investment in long-term growth for the working families they employ.” She continued, “The Finger Lakes region is ripe with employment opportunity. Building a strong workforce/economic/community eco-system is the foundation of these successes”.
About Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards & Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars
The Hazlitt family has been growing superb grapes on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, NY for over 150 years. Established in 1984, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards continues the family tradition of award-winning viticulture and wine production. In 2010, Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars was founded when the Hazlitt family purchased the 3+ million gallon Widmer Wine Cellars in Naples, New York from Constellation Brands.
The family’s internationally renowned wines include Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, and Cabernet Franc. Most notably, Hazlitt is infamous for its Red Cat, White Cat, and Cabin Fever – some of the most popular and best-selling New York State wines. For more information, please visit Hazlit1852.com.
About East Coast Crush
East Coast Crush & Co-Pack (EC3) was founded in 2011 to take advantage of excess production space at Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars. EC3 is a custom service beverage production company that works with customers regionally, nationally, and globally. The company also imports, produces and packages wines for US distribution for customers throughout the world. EC3 specializes in the production and packaging of controlled beverages including wine, cider, seltzer, and other spirits.