Mazza at 50: The state’s biggest winery almost died on the vine, but in 2022, it’s not looking back. Diversification includes spirits, beer.
Jennie Geisler of the Erie Time’s News covers Mazza’s 50th – check out the full article (subscription required) here
Check out a photo album of images throughout the years here
Watch this short video of Robert & Mario Mazza talking about how they got here and where they’re headed.
(Excerpts from article)….The Mazzas, including Bob, 72; his wife, Kathie Mazza, 72; and their two children, Mario Mazza, 41, and Vanessa Mazza, 38, are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Robert Mazza Inc.
Bob Mazza, who immigrated to the U.S. when he was 5 years old, started the winery in 1973 on family land in North East with his brother, Frank Mazza, now deceased.
“We started in April 1973 and the first harvest was 25,000 gallons of juice to make wine,” Bob Mazza said. “Over the winter, we built the tasting and retail rooms.”
Meanwhile, the Lake Erie Wine Trail was growing up around them, and Bob Mazza said he was glad to have company.
“We like competition,” Bob Mazza said. “We like to see other wineries established and we work with them to help ensure their success. We are very interested in growing the region.”
Several of his neighbors on the trail consider the Mazzas not as competitors, but as leaders and partners.
Mario Mazza opens his laptop excitedly, trying to simplify a complicated organization he’s steering into the future.
What started as 25,000 gallons of grape juice seven years before he was born has grown into a “house of brands” he’s spent the past year trying to clarify and organize, with the help of Swell marketing firm in Philadelphia.
Until 2005, when he returned to the family business at age 25, Mario Mazza was getting an education in winemaking in Australia.
“Dad said I should go make mistakes with someone else’s money” before coming home to run the family business, he said with a laugh.
He hasn’t made many mistakes since coming back and is slowly taking the reins his father is gladly handing to him and his sister, Vanessa.
Mario Mazza drove the company’s expansion to Chautauqua County, New York. Mazza Chautauqua Cellars opened in Mayville in 2006, making distilled products including Eaux de Vie, grappa and spirits for fortified wines, including cream sherry and port wines.
“What we’re doing is diversification,” Mario said. “We were a winery only for several decades and our business is based in wine, but the beer and spirits are driving growth while the wine is still growing in popularity.
“I’m still a winemaker at heart,” Mario said. “But it’s exciting to see what growth that we have and we’re really looking to the future.”