Red Tail Ridge Winery – Thinking Green on Seneca Lake

Red Tail Ridge Winery – Thinking Green on Seneca Lake

Red Tail Ridge Winery

At the recommendation of Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report, we visited 5-year old Red Tail Ridge Winery on a recent visit to the Finger Lakes wine region.

Red Tail Ridge winery is owned and operated by Mike Schnelle and Nancy Irelan (short video), a husband and wife team, who are dedicated to producing fine wine in the Finger Lakes.  Red Tail Ridge is the first LEED®-certified green winery in New York.  Red Tail Ridge’s “green” features:

  • New wine processing building aims for LEED Silver certification.
  • Walls contain recycled materials.
  • Fieldstone on facade came from vineyard grounds.
  • Geothermal heating/cooling system.
  • ‘Daylighting’ to cut energy use.
  • Use of suppliers within a 500-mile radius.
  • Drainage ditches, drain tile and irrigation pond minimize storm runoff.
  • Laser-straight rows planted 6 feet apart aid in cultivation and weed control.
  • Fencing and nets deter wildlife humanely.

Our tasting was led by self-proclaimed ‘hired gun’ Noel, a knowledgeable wine and Finger Lakes enthusiast.

  • We first sampled the 2009 Sans Oak Chardonnay: Typical non-oaked Chardonnay characteristics – ripe pear/juicy apple with a creamy finish.  Around $11.95.
  • Second, we sipped on 2008 Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay: Nutty peach flavors, creamy nutmeg finish.  Around $16.99.
  • Our third offering was the 2008 Dry Riesling:  Tangy key lime and juicy tropical fruit with dry finish.  Wine Spectator: 89 points. Around $18.95.
  • Next was the 2008 Semi-Sweet Riesling:  Rich, peachy nose with tangerine/cantaloupe flavor. Unctuous finish that lingers. Think – Indian food. Around $13.95.
  • A new varietal to me was the 2008 Lemberger: Mouthful of ripe cherries, spicy, slightly chocolaty notes.  Around $19.95.
  • Finally, we sipped the 2008 Estate Pinot Noir:  Nose is in-your-face with bright cherries.  Big mouthful of raspberries/ripe cherries with hints of butterscotch. Around $19.95.

The winery even features a charity wine, 2009 Good Karma, where 3% of the per-bottle profit is donated to Foodlink, a regional food bank.

Red Tail Ridge In Stores

Red Tail Ridge wines can be purchased at the winery, by phone at 315-536-4580, via email at, at many fine wine stores and can be enjoyed at many New York tri-state restaurants and select California dining establishments.

Good wine producer, confident in its pursuit of sustainability, Red Tail Ridge Winery is a must-visit Seneca Lake winery.  The cozy tasting room is located at:

846 State Route 14
Penn Yan, NY 14527

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