By Colleen Leonardi
When COVID-19 descended, distilleries across the nation jumped in to fill the need for hand sanitizer. In Westfield, New York, a family-owned business went above and beyond that call to fully convert their operations to produce sanitizer and donate it to local organizations. Mazza Five & 20 Spirits is committing “with love” one hundred percent of its resources to produce an essential product in a time of crisis. As a regional business with strong roots to their loyal community, it comes as no surprise that Five & 20 Spirits is stepping in to serve and protect.
Lake Erie has been home to the Mazza family for 45 years where they’ve established successful vineyards, all beginning with a single vineyard in 1972. Joseph Mazza immigrated to the U.S. with his family from Cambria, Italy. In time his son, Robert, saw the vision for a business centered around the family vineyard. Today, the family cultivates approximately 550 acres of land for both grape and grain production. Robert’s son, Mario, is the vice president and general manager of Five & 20 and oversees the production of their Five & 20 Sanitizer.
When asked why produce sanitizer, their answer: “Because we can! We are fortunate to have the ingredients, equipment, and processes in place to distill a product that will make a real difference in our community.” Five & 20 is “New York State’s first ever combination winery, distillery, and brewery,” drawing visitors from all over the country to witness their unique operation. In 2018, the company celebrated over 10 million bottles of wine sold. Their reach is big.
So in April, the winery, distillery, and brewery was able to innovate quickly. While retaining 30 full-time employees, Five & 20 produced approximately 3,000 gallons of sanitizer. Production adheres to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strict guidelines. Currently, they’re producing about 400 gallons of sanitizer weekly for as long as the COVID-19 crisis and hand sanitizer shortage persists. That’s commitment with a capital C.
While initial efforts were aimed at donating sanitizer to local healthcare workers, non-profits, and departments of health, Five & 20 is stepping it up. They’re making their sanitizer available for sale to for-profit businesses considered essential. By selling the product to the next population on the front lines, they’re also offsetting employee salaries and their operating costs to keep the business running.
Whiskies and bourbon are available for purchase on their website or for curbside pick-up at the distillery. All sales continue to support the production of hand sanitizer until the need runs dry. And then what? “We look forward to raising a glass with you all soon,” as shared on their website, “but in the meantime, we will be hard at work as usual in a time that is anything but.”
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