Wines & Vines Home
Welcome Guest

Hazlitt Family to Acquire Widmer's Winery

Red Cat/White Cat producer to take over historic winery as Constellation unloads it

by Linda Jones McKee
Widmer’s Wine Cellars
The Hazlitt family is poised to gain ownership of Widmer’s Wine Cellars.
Naples, N.Y. -- It’s a historically appropriate transition: The Hazlitt family has grown grapes on Seneca Lake’s eastern shore for more than 150 years; Widmer’s Wine Cellars, founded in 1882, is one of the oldest wineries in the Finger Lakes. If all goes according to plan, come June, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, Hector, N.Y., will own the historic Widmer winery.

On March 31, Constellation Brands Inc. and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) announced that Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards had entered into an agreement to buy Widmer’s Wine Cellars in Naples, N.Y. Constellation had announced in September that the company intended to close the Widmer facility and donate the property to RIT for use with the school’s technology, sustainability and hospitality programs.

Over the years, Widmer’s had grown to be Naples’ biggest business. Its closing meant the loss of jobs and a major negative impact on the town’s tax base. Consequently, the announcement made Wednesday was a happy one in Naples, bringing the prospect of jobs at Widmer’s and continued tax revenue for the township’s budget.

In the months since the original announcement that it would close Widmer’s, Constellation worked with the university, the Ontario County Office of Economic Development (OCOED) and the Ontario County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) to find an appropriate use for the property, including the possibility of keeping Widmer’s as a functioning winery. Now that an agreement has been signed with Hazlitt’s, that possibility may become a reality.

The two Ontario County agencies, OCOED and OCIDA, will work with Hazlitt to obtain the financing needed for the project to move forward. The purchase, subject to customary due diligence and closing conditions, is expected to close in June, and Hazlitt will assume management of the facility by the end of the year.

Hazlitt Red Cat
Hazlitt's best-known brand, Red Cat, sponsors the Red Cat Summer Stage at Watkins Glenn International racetrack.
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, owned by Doug Hazlitt and Leigh Hazlitt Triner, produces a number of brands including Red Cat, White Cat, Cabin Fever and Bramble Berry. According to Doug Hazlitt, the Widmer property includes the winery buildings, numerous barns and a total of 499 acres, including approximately 165 acres of grapes. He noted that, “We’ll probably keep about half of the vineyard acreage, and half will be torn out or replanted with other varieties.”  The winery facility will become home to the popular and fast-growing Red Cat and White Cat brands.

“I’m excited that this is happening,” Hazlitt told Wines & Vines. “I used to ride on the grape truck with my dad when he was delivering grapes to Widmer’s. My grandfather did the same thing, and so did my great-grandfather.”

How RIT will fit into the Widmer-Hazlitt project is not yet clear. Hazlitt commented, “The university is pleased that we’re buying the Widmer property, but there is no set deal. The only agreement is to get together and formulate a plan. I think we can find a way to use their sustainability and technology programs, and when we open a retail space, we might be able to bring in students from their hospitality and service management programs.”

Constellation plans to spend approximately $7.2 million to expand its Canandaigua, N.Y., facility so that the company can produce the brands currently made at Widmer’s, including Manischewitz, Paul Masson, Taylor and Widmer’s. The company also announced its intention to make a significant donation to RIT to further the university’s commitment to the community, education and the New York wine industry.

Currently no comments posted for this article.

Wines & Vines Home
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
Wine Industry Metrics
Off-Premise Sales
IRI Channels »
Month   12 Months  
October 2015 $604 million
$8,267 million
October 2014 $572 million $7,790 million
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
October 2015 $288 million
$1,919 million
October 2014 $284 million $1,751 million
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
October 2015 179
October 2014 139 226
MORE » Released on 11.13.2015


Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
Download full report »


Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
Search the PWV archive »

  • December 2
    2015 UC Davis Grape Day
  • December 3
    North Coast Wine Industry Expo
  • December 5-6
    Holidays in the Vineyards
  • January 13-14
    DtC Wine Symposium
  • MORE »

Article: Kronenberg Leaves Legacy of DtC Opportunities »
This is amusing. While I do not quarrel with Paul's many contributions over the years,...
Reader: Guest
Article: Kronenberg Leaves Legacy of DtC Opportunities »
Wow! This this a re-writing of history! As a founder and namer of Family Winemakers...
Reader: Guest
Article: Can Wine Grapes Be Grown Without Chemicals? »
It sounds like your problem is with semantics, not with the application of products to...
Reader: Carol Collier
Article: Cuvaison Upgrades to Second Generation of Pellenc Sorter »
I'd like to know what they are doing with the sorted stuff, especially the first...
Reader: Matthew Delicata
Article: Growers Suffer Low Yields in Paso Robles »
This year's Paso Robles/San Miguel "mature" Cabernet Sauvignon yields were down to 30% of normal while...
Reader: Guest

2016 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
Wines & Vines Magazine
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
Latest Job Listings
 Cashier/Sales Associat...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Assistant Event Coordi...
 St. Helena, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Event Coordinator
 St. Helena, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Sales Associates Help-...
 Boston, MA
Sales and Marketing
 Northern California Re...
 San Francisco, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Sales Reprsentative
 Mid/Northern, NJ
Sales and Marketing
 National Chain Manager
 Miami, FL
Sales and Marketing
 Wine Sales Associate
 Fremont, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Tasting Room Manager
 Grants Pass, OR
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Bottling Line Technici...
 Clarksburg, CA
Cellar, Lab and Production
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:

Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2001-2015 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.