Red Cat Wine: A Young New York Wine with Older Roots




If you’ve ever heard of Red Cat Wine, you probably (as many others have) wondered what the heck it was all about. It’s certainly a strange name for a wine and this alone exudes an attitude that is atypical, to say the least, in the wine world. Attitude, or maybe personality would be a better word, is what Red Cat Wine is all about.

Hazlitt Vineyard in Hector, New York is the home of Red Cat Wine. Red Cat is the flagship of this vineyard that has only been around for 24 years, but has vines that date back to 1852! So what’s the story with Red Cat? It all begins in the early 1980s, before Hazlitt Vineyard even existed. Founder Jerry Hazlitt, a fifth generation grape grower, made wine for his family and friends right in his home. His first batch of wine was hand-pressed and foot-stomped in a large wooden tub in he and his wife Elaine’s front driveway. This wine they called Red Catawba, after the native New York grapes used to create it. Soon, however, it would be nicknamed Red Cat.

Some of this early Red Cat Wine showed up at a First of May Party, of all things, at Hazlitt Beach down on Lake Seneca. Jerry Hazlitt’s sons, renowned for “lady’s man” personalities, took some of the wine and hosted a bash on the waterfront, replete with a huge bonfire and a homemade Jacuzzi. The more Red Cat wine was consumed; the more fun party-goers were having in the hot tub. Thus, the original “hot tub wine” of the region was born.

Nowadays, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards produces thousands of gallons of Red Cat Wine every year and it is shipped worldwide. Tens of thousands of wine enthusiasts visit the tasting room every year and stand at the horseshoe bar, bellowing the Red Cat chant with staff and friends. Not content with just offering Red Cat Wine, Hazlitt Vineyards also makes T-shirts, wine & beer koozies, golf balls, and thongs. It’s a real party wine, as you can see!

Red Cat Wine is a great, affordable, fruity sweet red wine from the Finger Lakes region of New York. It’s a great wine to have on hand for parties, and may even make fans out of “snooty” red wine fans that may look down their nose at any wine that costs less than $50. A bottle of Red Cat can cost anywhere between $7-$20, depending on where you get it and what vintage it is. Regardless, it’s much cheaper than going out and spending hundreds of dollars on expensive wine for a large party. Red Cat is also a great red for “breaking in” your white wine-loving friends that are afraid of the husky reds. It’s a red that is sweet and gentle on the palate, letting everyone know that not all reds are the same. If you’re hosting a large party any time soon and want some wine to accompany the festivities, give Red Cat a try!

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