Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards and Swedish Hill Winery are doing a lot of celebrating these days. The two Finger Lakes wineries took "Best of Show" and "Best Winery" honors, respectively, in the recent New York State Fair wine competition.
Hazlitt's 2012 Solera Sherry surprised a lot of people by being selected by the judges as the top entry in the commercial wine division of the annual event, taking "Best Dessert Wine" honors before being awarded the overall title. Usually a Riesling or even a Cabernet Sauvignon is expected to emerge on top. The winning entry retails for $19.99.
Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards is located at 5712 New York Route 414 in Hector, Schuyler County, west of Ithaca. Phone: (607) 546-9463. Its name tells much about its history. The winery was founded in 1985 by Jerry and Elaine Hazlitt on a farm founded in 1852 by David Hazlitt, the first of six generations of the family to grow grapes and other fruits on the land. Hazlitt also owns the companion operation Red Cat Cellars in Naples, Ontario County.
Swedish Hill Winery is located at 4565 New York 414 in Romulus in Seneca County. Phone: (607) 403-0029. Its sister wineries are Goose Watch Winery at 5480 Route 89 in Romulus and Penguin Bay at 6075 Route 414 in Hector, with tasting rooms in Lake Placid and Saratoga Springs. Swedish Hill began in 1969 when Dick and Cindy Peterson planted their first vines to grow grapes for local wineries. They first crushed grapes in 1985 for their own winery, producing enough for 1,200 cases. Today, under their son Dave and his wife Jean, the winery produces more than 60,000 cases annually.
Other "Best" awards made at the State Fair: Fruit Wine -- The Winery at Marjim Manor Katapalooza; White Wine -- Glenora Wine Cellars 2013 Riesling; Dessert Wine Non-Fortified -- Glenora Wine Cellars Vidal Blanc Ice Wine; Sparkling Wine -- Chateau Frank 2008 Blanc de Blancs; Red Wine -- Glenora Wine Cellars 2012 Meritage; Blush Wine -- Woodbury Vineyards Seaport Blush; Spirits -- Sherwood House Vineyards XO Brandy Chardonnay; Mead/Cider -- Earl Estates Meadery Wort Hog Porky's Pleasure Hard Cherry Cider.