By Evan Dawson, Finger Lakes Editor

Red Tail Ridge Winery on Seneca Lake has achieved LEED Green Building Certification after a long and rigorous process. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

In a news release, Red Tail Ridge laid out the many steps that have been made in this process:

  • All heating and cooling requirements for wine processing is provided by geothermal energy
  • Alternative energy use creates 50% energy savings
  • Building is constructed from recycled materials
  • All winery processing waste (including water, lees, pomace) is recycled
  • Natural lighting inside the winery eliminates need for day-time aritifical lighting
  • Winery uses low-energy light fixtures
  • 70% of the total wood-based building materials were harvested from FSC-certified forests

"Not only are we putting our best foot forward environmentally, we are also saving over 50% in our energy consumption," owner-winemaker Nancy Irelan said in the release.

Tracie Hall, the Executive Director of the U.S. Green Building Council's upstate New York chapter, praised Red Tail Ridge for getting certified. Hall cited the innovative winemaking processes employed by the winery, saying that Red Tail Ridge has effectively cut costs, saved energy and reduced "environmental impact, all while producing amazing wines."

The New York Cork Report has covered Red Tail Ridge's green efforts; the above photo comes from our November 2009 story.

Owners Nancy Irelan and Mike Schnelle explained years ago that they were willing to invest in this process with the expectation that they would be rewarded with lower costs and a smaller environmental footprint. It appears they were right. Irelan and Schnelle have proven willing to help others learn about this process, and they're planning a party to celebrate the LEED certification in May.