John Keeler

John Keeler

HECTOR — John Keeler, president of Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, has announced that he will be retiring as of the end of this year.

“John has served the company well and led us through the transition from a small regional winery into a significant East Coast producer,” co-CEO Leigh Triner said. “We wish him the best as he moves into a well-deserved retirement.”

Doug Hazlitt, Leigh’s brother and co-CEO, added, “I’m sure John will keep busy. There are plenty of fishing holes that need attention!”

Born and raised in Willard, Keeler has been a lifelong resident of upstate New York. He graduated from South Seneca High School in 1975 and received an associate’s degree in accounting from Bryant & Stratton College in 1977. Later, during his time in the workforce, Keeler received his bachelor’s degree in accounting with honors from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Keeler began his career at Robeson Appliances, a manufacturer of small kitchen appliances in Castile. In 1980, he took a position in the finance department at the EPD Division of Goulds Pumps in Seneca Falls. Then in 1986, he became controller at CCN International, a manufacturer of high-end office furniture, in Geneva.

Ten years later, Keeler was hired as controller at Monarch Machine Tool in Cortland. There he was eventually named co-CEO and took on an ownership position as well. One of the highlights during his time at Monarch, Keeler successfully managed negotiations of employment contracts with the United Auto Workers Union.

Keeler joined Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards as company president in February 2009. During his tenure, he was instrumental in the acquisition of Widmer Wine Cellars (now Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars) from Constellation Brands and the founding of East Coast Crush & Co-Pack in Naples.

Under Keeler’s purview, Red Cat Cellars has grown from 14 to 53 full-time employees with an additional 10-12 temporary hires at any time. In addition, the facility has seen many upgrades to allow for a multitude of co-packing capabilities.

In retirement, Keeler plans on volunteering at charitable organizations. In addition to pursuing the many outdoor sporting activities he loves, he is also looking forward to traveling and spending more time with his family.

The Hazlitt family has been growing superb grapes on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, NY for over 150 years. Established in 1984, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards continues the family tradition of award-winning viticulture and wine production. In 2010, Hazlitt Red Cat Cellars was founded when the Hazlitt family purchased the 3+ million gallon Widmer Wine Cellars in Naples, N.Y., from Constellation Brands.

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