Rick Leiti of Cape May Point has only been on the Hawk Haven staff for two years but his interest in wine runs deep.
Leiti is originally from Delaware County, Pa., and spent a lot of his twenties working in an office. Eager for a change in scenery, he took some time off to work in Peru.
“That was where I really discovered wine,” he said.
Leiti eventually returned to the Philadelphia area to be close to friends and family. At the time he returned to the area there was a burgeoning wine scene.
“I wanted to be a part of what people were growing and learning about the industry,” he said.
He went to Auburn Road Winery, where he started working part-time in the tasting room. As he gained experience there, his interest in the wine industry grew, and Leiti decided he wanted to invest more time at the vineyard.
Eventually he increased to full-time, working in the vineyard, as a liaison between their wine retail locations, in the wine cellar, and managing the tasting room on weekends.
When Leiti met Seneca Reiley, they moved to Cape May County to start their life together (and will soon be married in Costa Rica, April 2017!).
Leiti asked the advice of the owners of Auburn Winery where they thought he should pursue he wine career locally. They pointed him in the direction of Hawk Haven Vineyard.
“The first thing that I really connected with was their amazing wine,” said Leiti. “The next thing was the vibe there. Todd and Kenna are working tirelessly to create amazing wine and surround themselves with a staff that is as passionate about their vision as they are.”
At Hawk Haven, in addition to working in the tasting room, retail outlets and working in the vineyard, he also does the winery tours.
“I love interacting with the public and educating them about all the amazing wine that is made here,” he said.
Leiti said that on the top of his list of dreams is to one day own his own winery. But for now, he is enjoying learning all he can and helping make great wine at Hawk Haven. He recently received a certificate from Wine & Spirit Education Trust and noted that there is always something new to learn.
“For the better part of my twenties, I spent so much time not knowing what I wanted to do. Then I found my passion is wine and it gave my life a direction,” he said.
When he isn’t working, Leiti enjoys relaxing with his favorite Hawk Haven bottle, Quill.