Red Tail Ridge Winery in running for James Beard award again

(Provided by New York Wine & Grape Foundation)
(Provided by New York Wine & Grape Foundation)

A Penn Yan winery is again receiving attention from the James Beard Foundation.

Red Tail Ridge Winery’s owners, Nancy Irelan and Mike Schnelle, have been nominated for a 2020 James Beard Award in the category of outstanding wine, spirits or beer  producer. Irelan is the winery’s winemaker, while Schnelle oversees the vineyards on the west side of Seneca Lake.

The husband-and-wife team began the winery in 2004.

No other Finger Lakes or Rochester-area food-and-drink establishment made the list of semifinalists this year. Irelan was nominated on her own in the same category in 2019.

Most James Beard nominees tend to come from large urban areas, with some exceptions. In the category of Best Chef: New York State, for instance, all the nominees come from New York City except for three from the Hudson Valley.

Finalists in this and other categories will be announced in Philadelphia on March 25, with the awards ceremony held during the James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago May 4.

Ireland was one of seven Finger Lakes women in the food and beverage industry who presented a dinner in January at the James Beard House in Manhattan.

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Wine and grape foundation moving to Penn Yan

The New York Wine and Grape Foundation is moving from Canandaigua to Penn Yan.

The foundation, a trade and marketing organization for grapes and wine, has been located in Canandaigua since the New York Wine and Culinary Center — now known as New York Kitchen — opened in 2006. Previously the foundation had been in Penn Yan; it moves back there May 1.

“It was an honor to serve as a founding partner for New York Kitchen. We have been proud to support the mission of promoting New York food and beverages as a tenant for 13 years,” wrote the foundation’s executive director, Sam Filler, in a newsletter Wednesday.

Sam Filler
Sam Filler

The motive behind the move is two-fold: The foundation needed more space, and it wanted to be closer to members.

“It all had to do with the fact that our staff was changing and our office needs,” Filler said. Penn Yan “is more centrally located to many of our member wineries in the Finger Lakes.”

The new location, in the Keuka Business Park, is close to Keuka Lake and a short drive away from Seneca Lake, both of which are circled by wineries.

The Finger Lakes wine region is the largest wine region in the state, boasting 145 wineries and tasting rooms, which is twice as many as the Long Island region, the next largest.

Filler said the Penn Yan location is more convenient for the employees who work at the foundation’s office, and more centrally located for those who work and live in New York and Albany.

Filler said the foundation is also excited to be a part of Penn Yan’s renewal, with a budding restaurant scene, new hotels, and news of a state revitalization grant.

Under Filler, the foundation has reorganized its staff and added one more position — a brand ambassador who focuses on New York City and exports — but Filler said he expects soon to hire an administrative assistant for the office, too.

[email protected]/(585) 363-7275

Penn Yan wins downtown revitalization funding

penn-yan-headerThe Village of Penn Yan has been named the Finger Lakes’ third-round winner of the state’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

“We are delighted and thrilled to be selected as the winner of Gov. Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative,” Penn Yan Mayor Leigh MacKerchar said in a statement. “This investment will spur further growth while enhancing our current assets throughout the community.”

Now in its third year, the state’s DRI is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s comprehensive approach to transform communities into vibrant neighborhoods through a competitive process within each of the state’s 10 regional economic development councils. One community from each of the 10 regions is chosen annually to receive $10 million to boost its economy through revitalization efforts.

“The Finger Lakes region is home to some of the greatest natural assets in the world, and I have seen firsthand how Penn Yan has been enriched by our growing upstate economy and booming craft beverage industry,” Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “Penn Yan is at the heart of the Finger Lakes, with a historic downtown that is primed for significant investment. With $10 million from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the village will be able to move forward with plans to improve housing, tourism assets and transportation connections.”

The Yates County village will begin the process of developing a strategic investment plan to revitalize its downtown with up to $300,000 in planning funds from the $10 million DRI grant. Officials said the community has experienced a number of barriers to economic growth including the impact of extreme floods and lack of housing options.

The DRI planning effort in Penn Yan will focus on overcoming these barriers and promoting sustained, year-round economic growth by concentrating on four areas: leveraging the abundant natural assets; capitalizing on the growing craft food and beverage industry; using the local art scene as an economic engine; and capturing the intellectual capital that lives and vacations in the village.

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