At Red Tail Ridge Winery we believe that quality is more important than quantity. As a result we intend to keep our production down and keep a close eye on the details of wine making. Exploring un-charted territory is an important component of this vision, as we are always striving to improve. For instance, we have planted Teroldego—a red Italian grape variety grown primarily in the northeastern region of Trentino-Alto—in our vineyard and are optimistic about the future of these vines. Wines produced from Teroldego have been compared to Zinfandel due to their deep color, brambly blackberriness, solid acidity and moderate tannin structure. We are eager to see how these vines and wines develop, and we look forward to more experimentation in the future.
Red Tail Ridge winery is owned and operated by Mike Schnelle and Nancy Irelan, a husband and wife team, who are dedicated to producing fine wine in the Finger Lakes.
Mike and I recently moved to Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes of up-state New York. Mike actually arrived a few years earlier than I did; he moved here when we first purchased the 34 acre property and began the long process of clearing and preparing the land for vineyard development. The property was primarily woods and scrub trees, so he had his hands full clearing trees, picking rocks, pulling stumps, leveling soil and placing drain tile. Very, very glamorous stuff! Before embarking on this project, he was working for a national company that rents heavy equipment to consumers. Mike used to manage the financial service center that serviced most of the individual locations west of the Mississippi. He’s a numbers-guy, with a lot of practical experience in heavy equipment—and he has a keen eye for vine health and development.
I arrived about two years later in January of 2006, leaving my position as Vice President of Viticulture and Enology R&D at a large corporate California winery to start a new life with my husband. When I’m not helping my husband pick rocks and pull stumps, I can usually be found walking the Pinot, Chardonnay, Riesling and Teroldego vines that we’ve already planted and keeping an eye on vine growth and fruit development. Once we reach veraison, I usually walk the vineyard every week to taste the fruit and assess ripeness. Once we harvest, I move my focus away from the vineyard and concentrate on the wine production process. And then, I sell the wine.
Our tasting room is located on the ridge in the middle of our vineyard, overlooking Seneca Lake. We have a great view of the lake to the east and southeast, and of Chardonnay and Riesling blocks. Our staff is eager to answer any questions you have about the winery, the wine, or the vineyards.
Red Tail Ridge Tasting Room Hours:
Monday through Saturday: 10 AM to 5 PM
Sunday: Noon to 5 PM
Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day