New York Wine Classic; Governor’s Cup at Hazlitt, Winery of the Year at Weis

Governor’s Cup presented at Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards and Wölffer Estate Vineyard; Weis Vineyards Named Winery of the Year

Hazlitt winemaker Tim Benedict of Penn Yan crafted Hazlitt’s winning Solera Sherry at Naples Cellar

Governor Kathy Hochul announced the winners of the 36th annual New York Wine Classic, a nationally recognized competition highlighting New York State’s finest wines. During a live virtual event hosted by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation, Governor Hochul presented the Governor’s Cup, the competition’s most prestigious award, to two wineries in a surprise tie. The award went to Solera Sherry from Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards in the Finger Lakes region and Diosa Late-Harvest 2020 from Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Long Island. Additionally, Weis Vineyards of the Finger Lakes was awarded “Winery of the Year”, which is presented to the winery with the best overall performance.

“The New York Wine Classic celebrates the best of New York’s wine and grape industries, and this year’s winners are stellar examples of the high-quality wine we know and love in our state,” Hochul said. “I congratulate Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, Wölffer Estate Vineyard and Weis Vineyards on receiving these prestigious awards. The wine industry is a vital part of New York’s agricultural economy and I am proud to support innovation, growth and the continued success of our wineries and farmers.”

Hosted annually by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation (NYWGF), the New York Wine Classic celebrates a diverse selection of world-class wines from producers across the state. For the second year, NYWGF has partnered with the Beverage Testing Institute (BTI) to judge the submitted wines. Scores were assigned by BTI’s trained sensory panel of beverage directors, sommeliers, top bartenders, retail buyers and educators.

Governor’s Cup

In addition to winning the Governor’s Cup, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards also received a platinum medal and tied for best dessert wine for their Solera Sherry. Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, located in Hector on Seneca Lake, was established in 1985 by the late Jerry Hazlitt and his wife Elaine. The family has been growing grapes and orchard fruits since 1852. The winery and vineyards are now managed by sixth-generation family members Doug Hazlitt and Leigh (Hazlitt) Triner.

Winemaker Tim Benedict crafted Governor's Cup-winning Solera Sherry at Hazlitt's Naples Winery.

Hazlitt’s winning Solera Sherry was crafted by Penn Yan winemaker Tim Benedict at Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars in Naples (formerly Widmer Wine Cellars). Benedict was Hazlitt’s winemaker for 16 years, first at the vinifera operation in Hector before taking over the Naples winery 11 years ago to expand product lines of native grapes. In addition to Hazlitt’s flagship products, the popular Red Cat and White Cat lines, Naples produces its ciders and dessert wines. But it was the Solera Sherry that was finally recognized as the star.

Hazlitt's Solera Sherry, the last Governor's Cup winner.

“It was kind of a surprise that a dessert wine won the Governor’s Cup,” says Benedict. “We’ve spent many years waiting, so it’s very satisfying.”

Grapes are in Benoît’s blood. The Penn Yan native lives on his grandparents’ farm in Yatesville as the seventh generation of his family to work the land. As a child, he remembers watching his grandmother prune and tie up the 12 acres of Concord grapes his grandfather grew, and remembers riding in the stone boat dragged between the rows, laden with crates of fragrant grapes. and freshly picked.

“One of the components of our Solera Sherry is Concord, so winning the Governor’s Cup is celebrating the native grapes that have always been grown around the Penn Yan region,” says Benedict. Some of the growers who supply these grapes have called Benedict to express their appreciation for Hazlitt “representing New York’s native grapes that don’t often get the recognition they deserve,” he adds.

“We are honored to receive the coveted Governor’s Cup,” said Leigh Hazlitt-Triner, co-CEO of Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards. “This award is a testament to our talented and hardworking winemaking and vineyard teams; we couldn’t be prouder.”

Hazlitt Solera Sherry

Governor’s Cup co-winner, Wölffer Estate Vineyard also earned a platinum medal and tied for Best Dessert Wine with their 2020 Diosa Late-Harvest. Located in Sagaponack, Long Island, Wölffer was founded in 1988 by Christian Wölffer, the estate is currently owned and operated by his children, Marc and Joey Wölffer, and winemaker/partner Roman Roth.

Cellar of the year

Ashlee and Peter Weis, co-owners of Weis Vineyards on Lake Keuka, are the winners of Winery of the Year.

Weis Vineyards Winery of the Year is located in Hammondsport, Steuben County. Weis also won a platinum medal and the award for best pink wine for its 2021 dry rosé, as well as the award for best white wine for its Winzer Select Riesling A 2020 which received a gold medal. They also won gold medals for their 2019 Merlot, 2021 Zweigelt Dry Rosé, 2017 Riesling Ice Wine, 2019 Riesling Ice Wine, 2020 Semi-Dry Riesling and 2020 Dry Riesling.

Weis also won a platinum medal for its Dry Rosé.

Winemaker and co-owner Hans Peter Weis was born in Zell Mosel, Germany, and grew up in the vineyards and cellar of his family winery. This is where he acquired his passion for wine. In the spring of 2016, he and his Finger Lakes native wife Ashlee decided to start this adventure together and open Weis Vineyards. He found the Finger Lakes to be the perfect place to pursue his passion for crafting traditional German-style wines for all to enjoy.

Wow! We are so honored to receive this recognition for our hard work,” exclaimed Peter and Ashlee. “As a relatively new winery, only five years ago, this is an unexpected honour. It means a lot to our continued growth and success. We put our heart and soul into our business, and we are overwhelmed with gratitude for this award. We would like to thank our entire Weis team, as we wouldn’t be here without them. Zum Wohl!”

Samuel Filler, Executive Director of the Penn Yan-based New York Wine & Grape Foundation, commented, “We would like to extend our congratulations to all of the winners and recognize the two historic and significant wineries that won the Governor’s Cup trophy this year. They, along with Winery of the Year, Weis Vineyards, are prime examples of the breadth and depth of fine wine New York can produce. From Long Island to the Finger Lakes, from dry wines to dessert wines, New York truly has something for every wine lover. What an adventure it would be to plan a visit to each of these winners this summer and fall.

The winners of the New York Wine Classic “Best in Category” were also announced today. They are:

  • Best red wine Keuka Lake Vineyards 2020 Léon Millot
  • Best white wine Weis Vineyards 2020 Winzer Select Riesling A
  • Best sparkling wine Dr Konstantin Frank 2017 Blanc De Blanc
  • Best rosé wine Weis Vineyards 2021 Dry Rosé
  • Best dessert wine Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards Solera Sherry Wölffer Estate Vineyard 2020 Diosa Late Harvest
  • Best Specialty Wine Ellicottville Red Raspberry Wine Vineyard

The New York Wine Classic “Best of Class” winners can be found here.

Judging for the New York Wine Classic ran from April 15 to June 15, 2022 and included 694 entries from 101 wineries across the state. A total of seven platinum, 234 gold, 324 silver and 110 bronze medals were awarded.

Since taking office, Governor Hochul has supported efforts to grow New York’s craft beverage industry, including a plan to permanently legalize takeout beverages and ensure a more effective liquor authority. Governor Hochul also announced proposals to update state liquor laws and fund operational improvements to the State Liquor Authority to revitalize the state’s multi-billion dollar hospitality industry. one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic. Today, there are 496 licensed wineries statewide, including 394 farm wineries.

About the New York Wine & Grape Foundation The mission of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation is to promote the world-class image of New York grapes and wines from our diverse regions in order to responsibly benefit farmers, growers and consumers through effective marketing. , innovative research, communication and advocacy. We strive to have New York State recognized as the premier region in the world for cool and cold climate viticulture. To learn more about the New York Wine Classic, please visit

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