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By John Tucker

Life in the Finger Lakes: Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars – A Great Experience

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Red Wine lovers take heed: Try the Port!

By Jim Moore, Chief Finger Lakes Enthusiast

On a recent trip, Kathy and I enjoyed breakfast at Crusoe’s Crossroads Cafe in Naples, NY. After a delightful and leisurely meal, we drove to the Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars tasting room, which is located in the former Widmer Wine Cellars facility.

The tasting room is nestled against the beautiful hills of Naples and is part of a vast complex that once housed production and storage facilities. The driveway leading to the tasting room winds through acres of grape vines.

We parked across the road from the tasting room and walked about 50 yards to the enchanting Scandinavian-inspired building that serves as the tasting room. Along the way, we passed a large building that had previously been used for storage by the Widmer Wine operation. We noticed that it had been transformed into a stunning bar and gathering space for the Engine 14 Brewery.

Upon entering the Hazlitt tasting room, we were warmly greeted by two young hosts who would guide us through our tasting experience.

The tasting setup was well-designed, with bar-style stools arranged along a large “L”-shaped bar. We were presented with an extensive menu from which we could select six samples. The selections included a wide variety of dry, semi-dry, and sweet options on both the red and white wine sides of the menu. There was also a fortified port wine available.

During a previous visit to the Hazlett tasting room many years ago, I had asked to taste a selection of red wines. Despite their name and description, each one turned out to be aggressively sweet, light-bodied, and for some reason, served chilled. Anticipating that the Hazlett wines and their winemakers had evolved since my last visit, I once again requested to sample five “dry” reds and the port.

My intuition paid off! While not the fullest-bodied red wines I’ve ever enjoyed (even among those from the Finger Lakes area of NY, known for producing lighter, thinner reds), each wine was flavorful, satisfying, and notably dry (except for the port, of course). They exhibited a captivating deep color and a robust, well-aged aroma. The quality of the glasses in which the wines were served enhanced the experience.

The port wine was a delight—thick, pleasantly sweet, warm, fruity, and truly satisfying. I couldn’t help but smile with each sip.

Overall, the entire experience was extremely pleasant, with exceptional hospitality from our hosts (including Taylor Wilson, the Assistant Tasting Room Manager at the time). The environment and decor were unique and captivating, and the wines surpassed our expectations in terms of satisfaction and flavor,
Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars can be found at 1 Lake Niagara Ln, Naples, NY, or on the web at https://hazlitt1852.com/naples/

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