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Dining and Wine, Food Stuff
In Leftovers of Winemaking, a Versatile Oil
By FLORENCE FABRICANT
Grapeseed oil, which tends to have a less assertive flavor and a lighter body than olive oil, is just catching on in the United States. Finger Lakes Extra Virgin Grape Seed Oil, cold-pressed from the winemaking leftovers of about 25 wineries in the region, is a new one with real personality. Fairly viscous, with a greenish color and an herbaceous flavor, it has more in common with fine olive oil than most grapeseed oils. It’s excellent in
dressing, as a finishing drizzle and for some sautéing jobs, especially vegetable-based stir-fries. It’s also good to brush on meat, poultry or seafood as it grills, and it’s tailor-made for mayonnaise.
The oil was developed, with the help of the new Food Venture Center of Cornell University, by the company Seneca BioEnergy, which had hoped to make fuel from grape seeds but discovered that the process would be too expensive for that purpose.
Seneca County company turns discarded Finger Lakes grape seeds into top-shelf cooking oil
Finger Lakes Extra Virgin Grape Seed Oil is produced by Seneca BioEnergy in Romulus, Seneca County.
Michael Coia calls himself both CEO and broom pusher at Seneca BioEnergy, a renewable-energy company at the old Seneca Army Depot in the heart of Finger Lakes wine country.
He's an engineer by trade, and he brought that expertise into play when he and his team first talked of plans to find a use for one of the area's major waste products -- discarded grape seeds.
They wanted to convert the seeds into biofuel, as they also planned to do with locally grown soybeans.
Coia took some grape seeds for laboratory analysis to the New York State Food Ventures Center, which is located near his company offices at the Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park in Geneva.
That's where he heard something that changed his focus.
The grape seeds, the lab researchers told him, would be better used to create a high-end food product -- grape-seed oil.
It's not a new idea. Wineries in Italy, France and on the U.S. West Coast have long turned their discarded seeds into extra-virgin grape-seed oil.
"So I said, 'Oh, my God, I've been a dumb engineer,'" Coia said.
Now, Finger Lakes Extra Virgin Grape Seed Oil is hitting the market as a top-shelf cooking ingredient, for home cooks as well as chefs at some of the Finger Lakes region's noted restaurants. The company has two varieties -- one made from a blend of grapes and one strictly from the Finger Lakes' signature Riesling grapes (though that is currently sold out).
The oils can be used for dipping, salad dressings, marinating or sauteing.
As a biofuel, the grape-seed product would cost a prohibitive $80 per gallon. The blended grape-seed oil sells online for $24.95 per 375-milliliter bottle (about 12.5 ounces) -- a little pricey but not out of line with high-end olive oils.
"We've gotten positive responses," Coia said, "because it tastes good, it's got polyphenols and antioxidants, which are good for you, and it's local."
This fall, as Finger Lakes wineries swung into action for the grape harvest, so did Seneca BioEnergy, for its second harvest season.
It starts with the waste produced when winemakers press the juice from freshly picked grapes. The waste -- called pomace -- contains a mix of leftover pulp, skin, stems and seeds.
About two-thirds of each grape goes to wine, Coia said, while one-third is pomace.
"In harvest season, it's all hands on deck," Coia said. "Wineries only pull the grapes from the vines once, so we've got to be there to pick up the waste."
The wineries, like Wagner Vineyards in Lodi, are happy to have someone take the pomace away. They could put it to use, for example, by placing it around grapevines to protect them from the cold, but only after the seeds have decomposed. (They don't want new vines sprouting in unwanted places).
"Otherwise, it gets put into a compost pile, then spread over an empty hayfield to break down," said Wagner co-owner Laura Wagner Lee. "But that could take a couple years."
Using grape-seed oil
The executive chefs at The Hotel Clarence in Seneca Falls and the Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles have used Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil as a bread dip and salad dressing ever since Seneca BioEnergy launched the product last year.
"Most chefs use grape-seed oil because it's neutral; it doesn't really taste like anything," said Dan Hudson, the Sherwood Inn's executive chef. "But the Riesling grapes that are so famous here make an acidic oil that's light and holds on to a nice grape flavor."
Hudson warns that extra-virgin grape-seed oil is a high-end ingredient that becomes expensive to cook with on a large scale.
Hudson mixes the grape-seed oil with a champagne vinaigrette for salad dressings, though for the most part, he likes to use the oil straight from the bottle, drizzled over fish, fruit, cheese, nuts or salad.
Michael Gaudio, executive chef at the Hotel Clarence, agreed.
"I think the oil has a better application right out of the bottle because it's more true to itself," Gaudio said. "You can taste it more."
Gaudio's favorite recipe is to drizzle the oil over toasted bruschetta with tomato and basil. He has also infused the grape-seed oil with herbs, vegetables, strawberries and balsamic vinegar for bread dipping. Sometimes Gaudio sears seafood like scallops or fish in grape-seed oil.
Coia notes that grape-seed oil has a higher burn point than many other oils -- about 45 degrees higher.
The grape-seed oil is providing Seneca BioEnergy with steady revenue stream as it continues to acquire equipment for soybean biodiesel production, which it hopes to start in 2013.
Coia said he now has a great appreciation for food, but he remains an engineer at heart.
"Biodiesel is only one of the arrows in the quiver of a sustainable future," Coia said, "But there are other things we can do, even producing grape-seed oil, to solve environmental problems."
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 4:00 AM Updated: Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 12:45 PM
Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil Names Sales Manager
GENEVA, NY (Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012) – A Geneva woman with extensive experience in sales and marketing has been named as Sales Manager for Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil.
Christine Jeffries started in the new position this summer. Among her initial tasks has been placing the Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil in wineries and retail outlets throughout the region. More than 40 Finger Lakes wineries are now selling Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil in their tasting rooms, and it is also being offered at a growing number of specialty food stores and other retail outlets.
“My goal as sales manager is to help make Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil a signature brand for our region,” Jeffries said. “It’s an all-natural, all-local product that our region can be very proud of.”
Commenting on the appointment, Michael Coia, CEO of Seneca BioEnergy LLC, the parent firm of Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil, said: “We chose Christine because of her impressive energy and experience. I am confident that her work will make Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil a household name throughout our area and beyond.”
A native of Massachusetts, Jeffries has lived in the Geneva area for more than 12 years. Through her own firm, Fast Lane Enterprises LLC, she has been offering unique and creative retail solutions. She also represents other local product lines, including Glass Half Full T-shirt designs; TwinLine custom glass decorators; Lucienne’s Amazing Chocolates; Seneca Salt Company/Java-Gourmet; and Northern Lights Candles.
Jeffries originally came to this area as sales representative to the motorsports industry. She was very successful in this endeavor and more than quadrupled sales in the Western New York region.
When there’s a little down time for Jeffries, you can find her enjoying jetskiing or snowmobiling, depending on the season, or just spending time with friends, family and her two dogs.
Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil is a new product in the region and holds great promise as more people taste and learn about grape seed oil and realize the healthy benefits of this vineyard-derived oil. Just as the region’s wines grow in stature and add fans from around the globe, so too has the extra virgin grape seed oil, which makes excellent use of the seeds and is a byproduct of the winemaking process/
Extra Virgin Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil is a gourmet cooking oil that can be used for sautéing, salad dressing, stir frying, marinating, grilling and as a flavored dipping oil. The oil is mechanically pressed from Finger Lakes grapes’ seeds, a byproduct of the winemaking process, and lightly filtered. It is naturally cholesterol free and has a high concentration of antioxidants.
Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil is a subsidiary of Seneca BioEnergy, LLC, which is developing its Green Energy Park at the former Seneca Army Depot in Romulus. For more information, visit: www.fingerlakesgrapeseedoil.com or www.senecabioenergy.com.
When its operations are completely under way, Seneca BioEnergy’s products will include soybean and canola oil, agricultural meal, grape seed oil, biodiesel and biomass, vineyard waste management and manufactured soils.
Seneca BioEnergy’s corporate office is in the Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park at 500 Technology Farm Drive – Suite 12, Geneva, N.Y. 14456.
To reach Jeffries, call (508) 868-4354 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CEO of Seneca BioEnergy, Mike Coia, Presents on Renewable Energy to the Finger Lakes Institute
GENEVA, NY-- On Monday March 12th, Mike Coia of Seneca BioEnergy gave a presentation on renewable and alternative energy to students of the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith College.
In collaboration with Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva, NY, the Finger Lakes Institute was created to promote environmental research of the Finger Lakes and to distribute their findings to the general public. The Finger Lakes Institute’s main goals, as described in their mission, are to provide training, research, enhanced understanding of environmental issues, and distribution of their findings to the general public to create impact awareness.
Seneca BioEnergy is a Finger Lakes manufacturer of Biodiesel Fuel and its sister company, Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil, produces Extra Virgin Grape Seed Oil. Seneca BioEnergy’s building blocks are “agriculture, renewable energy, and environmental sustainability”. Seneca BioEnergy describes their corporate mission by stating “We support Finger Lakes agriculture by processing local crops and agricultural wastes, and selling commodity products, and we will work to enhance the region’s agribusinesses”. Seneca BioEnergy represents a real-world business entity that supports the Finger Lakes Institute ideology, making it applicable for CEO, Mike Coia to introduce the company and the Seneca BioEnergy philosophy.
For his presentation, Coia discussed the importance of renewable resources and indicated the importance of location for facilities. Seneca BioEnergy had come to the conclusion to redevelop the former Seneca Army Depot in Romulus into the Seneca AgBio Green Energy Park. This facility provides numerous assets including railroads, roadways, and warehouses that illustrate the company’s mission of renewable resources. Coia also discussed plans for housing other “like-minded” companies at the Green Energy Park.
Coia concluded his presentation by illustrating how this Green Energy Project would provide a win-win situation for all involved. By providing an “Energy Win” through Biodiesel production and renewable resources, an “Agricultural Win” by supporting local wineries and farmers with biomass, and an “Environmental Win” by utilizing renewable feedstocks and processing the grape pomace waste.
Click Here for Powerpoint Presentation
New Green Company Launches Venture In Former Seneca Army Depot
Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil and its parent company Seneca BioEnergy have launched their new ventures at Seneca AgBio Green Energy Park on the site of the former Seneca Army Depot in Romulus.
Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil uses an exclusive process to separate grape pomace—seeds, stems and skins—to allow pressing of the seeds to make grape seed oil. Grape seed oil has been gaining popularity in recent years for its health benefits and cooking qualities.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held in October as Michael Coia, ceo, launched the new ventures. “With the 2011 wine grape harvest under way, Seneca BioEnergy has started processing grape waste pomace from numerous local wineries, separating grape seeds that ultimately will be pressed to yield Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil,” Coia says. “Our product is the first local grape seed oil, a healthy, extra virgin oil with lots of nutrients.”
The product, extra virgin grape seed oil, has a seemingly endless list of products and purposes. In home kitchens and in restaurants, the oil can be used for baking, deep-frying, dipping, marinades, salad dressings and flavored oils. It serves as a healthy flavorful replacement for extra virgin olive oil.
Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil has a high concentration of many antioxidants, including polyphenols and Vitamin E, is naturally cholesterol free and is considered the lowest trans-fat vegetable oil. Unlike olive oil, it has a high smoke point, which means it won't burn at high cooking temperatures.
The company will utilize pomace from Finger Lakes wineries to make its grape seed oil, making this a uniquely local product. Future plans include partnering with the wineries to produce oils with the wineries’ own labels, and perhaps even varietal grape seed oils, such as an oil made entirely from Riesling grape seeds.
Dave Whiting, owner and winemaker at Red Newt Cellars, provided pomace to the new venture this year from about 150 tons of Riesling grapes—perhaps 40 to 50 tons of pomace. He says they are excited about the new venture and the potential of the product. “We’re anxious to try it in the kitchen at the Bistro and also have it available to sell.”
When its operations are completely under way, Seneca BioEnergy’s products will include soybean and canola oil, agricultural meal, grape seed oil, biodiesel and biomass, vineyard waste management and manufactured soils. Seneca BioEnergy also plans to lease space at its complex to other companies. Its first tenant, Top Quality Hay Processors, has started its innovative hay drying operation.
Seneca AgBio Green Energy Park was developed with the aid of grants from Restore New York and financing from the Seneca Falls Savings Bank.
Production of grape seed oil is only the beginning for these innovative, green thinking companies. “The Seneca BioEnergy facility is the anchor site for other redevelopment at the Depot,” Coia says. “We want to fill our park with green energy companies and environmentally sustainable agribusinesses that will support the new economy.”
Winery partners with FL Grape Seed Oil: Wagner Vineyards, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, Fox Run Vineyards, Miles Wine Cellars, White Springs Winery, Anthony Road Wine Company, Billsboro Winery, Atwater Estate Vineyards, Red Newt Cellars, Three Brothers Wineries & Estates on Seneca Lake and Swedish Hill Winery, Hosmer Winery and Sheldrake Point Vineyard on Cayuga Lake.
For more information visit www. fingerlakesgrapeseedoil.com or www. senecabioenergy.com
From the Finger Lakes Wine Gazette
Written by Martha Gioumousis
SENECA BIOENERGY SCHEDULED TO BEGIN COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION
ROMULUS — After years of renovations and pilot projects, a Finger Lakes business is ready to start squeezing oil from grapes at the former Seneca Army Depot.
Seneca BioEnergy, LLC plans to press oil from grape waste. The company is kicking off commercial production of grape-seed oil and plans to produce 3,000 gallons from wastes from this year’s grape harvest.
The oil will be sold at local wineries and online in 375 milliliter bottles, according to Seneca BioEnergy CEO Michael Coia. He hopes to boost production from next year’s grape harvest to 10,000 gallons.
Seneca BioEnergy produces oil from grape pomace, which is made up of skins, stems, and seeds left over after wine production. The company takes pomace from vineyards in the region, separates the grape seeds, and presses them to produce oil.
Commercial grape-seed oil production is beginning a year after the company engineered grape-seed oil as part of a pilot project.
“What we did during the pilot program was miniscule quantities,” Coia says. “The pilot program was basically bringing in enough product so that we could get the Cornell [University New York State Food Venture Center] to test the product.”
Tests showed a product high in antioxidants, according to Coia. It can be used for sautéing, marinades, salad dressings, and dipping. Fullscale production will begin in the next few weeks, he says.
The grape-seed oil isn’t the only product Seneca BioEnergy is launching commercially. The company will begin biodiesel production within months.
Seneca BioEnergy plans to use local vegetable oil and waste oil to make biodiesel, which can take the place of traditional diesel fuel in powering some vehicles like buses or producing heat.
Biodiesel will be sold to local home-heating oil companies, municipal bus fleets, and college heating-oil furnaces, according to Coia. He declined to name specific buyers because he is currently in negotiations.
Seneca BioEnergy will produce about 1,000 gallons of biodiesel per day, according to Coia. In its first 12 months of commercial production, the company will create between 250,000 gallons and 500,000 gallons of fuel, and it will increase to 500,000 gallons the following year, he says.
Seneca BioEnergy prepared for commercial production by expanding to 10 full-time employees, according to Coia. It hired eight workers in the last six months, he says. Before the hiring, Coia and CFO John Burfeindt were the company’s only employees, Coia says.
Commercial production should help the company produce revenue in 2012, Coia says. Seneca BioEnergy will not generate revenues this year but will likely produce $1.5 million next year, he says. Revenues should grow over five years to $3.5 million, he says.
That outlook is more conservative than original plans for the business, which had it bringing in revenues between $45 million and $50 million.
“Our long-term plans were to have a soybean processing facility here and a 15 milliongallon biodiesel facility,” Coia says. “What we have learned over the years is in this climate that we’re in, it’s difficult to get any financing or equity participation from [venture capitalists] or any kind of leverage financing at that size when you’re a startup.”
Coia still wants to expand the company to the size outlined in initial plans. But it will first have to grow to be eligible for more financing, he says.
Seneca AgBio Green Energy Park
Seneca BioEnergy is headquartered in offices at the Cornell Agriculture and Food Technology Park in Geneva, but it has plenty of room to expand its production facilities. In 2008, the year it was founded, the business purchased 55 acres of land at the former Seneca Army Depot in Romulus.
The land, which the company renamed the Seneca AgBio Green Energy Park, includes 400,000 square feet of warehouse and manufacturing space. Seneca BioEnergy currently uses just 40,000 square feet of that space.
The company wants to attract other tenants, according to Coia. The property could handle up to 14 tenants, he says.
“They all have to be either agribusiness, environmental, or green energy,” he says. “It’s the core mission of doing something in a sustainable way. We’re not going to have people coming in here and storing tires.”
One other business currently resides at the park. Top Quality Hay Processors, a company founded by hay growers and businessmen that produces hay without drying it in fields, leases 120,000 square feet.
Seneca BioEnergy purchased the green energy park for $3.1 million with money from investors, according to Coia. The company spent $2.5 million on renovations, which it funded through a combination of self-financing and state grants.
In 2010, Seneca BioEnergy won a Restore New York grant for $750,000 in infrastructure improvements. That year the New York State Electric & Gas Corp. received a $1.5 million Restore New York grant to fund electrical improvements at the site.
Other renovations Seneca BioEnergy performed included adding natural-gas service, sprinkler work, and repairs to buildings. That work, along with an existing dedicated rail line, helps make the park an attractive location, according to Coia.
“It’s an example of how you can leverage the existing infrastructure,” he says.
*Presented in the Central New York Business Journal* Written by Rick Seltzer
SENECA BIOENERGY RIBBON CUTTING EVENT CELEBRATES START OF GRAPE SEED OIL PRODUCTION
ROMULUS, NY (Friday, Oct. 28, 2011) – Michael Coia, CEO of Seneca BioEnergy, led a group of about 60 area residents and political officials at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday afternoon in Romulus, Seneca County. Green energy and economic development were the words of the day.
Presiding at the official opening of the Seneca AgBio Green Energy Park and production of its first product, Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil, Coia said, “This has been a three-year process and we’re just getting started. We’re blending together new innovations in green energy and agriculture.”
“With the 2011 wine grape harvest under way, Seneca BioEnergy has started processing grape waste pomace from numerous local wineries, separating grape seeds that ultimately will be pressed to yield Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil,” Coia said. “Our product is the first local grape seed oil, a healthy, extra virgin oil with lots of nutrients.”
The company also plans to start of production of biodiesel fuel in the coming months at the park, which is located at the former Seneca Army Depot.
Coia said, “We greatly appreciate the strong local commitment demonstrated by the town of Romulus, the Seneca County IDA, New York state, our local legislative officials and NYSEG. Without this successful private/public partnership and the good inter-governmental cooperation, we could not have been here today.”
A succession of speakers praised Seneca BioEnergy for its green energy agenda and wished the company well for the future.
State Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette, who has been a strong supporter of the redevelopment of the former Seneca Army Depot and has worked closely to assist Seneca BioEnergy at its facility there, paid tribute to Coia as a risk taker and investor.
Talking about the closing of the Army depot more than a decade ago, Nozzolio said, “Picture a 1,200 person business here as the Seneca Army Depot and its entire work force overnight is given pink slips. Now there are more than 1,200 jobs here … more than when the Army was here. The depot site is an economic development engine for this region.”
Rep. Richard Hanna, who represents Seneca County and other upstate counties in Congress, said, “In the last 40 years, no new jobs … net new jobs … have been created that were not related to some new innovation.” Hanna paid tribute to entrepreneurs and risk-takers.
Other comments at Friday’s event included:
Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, the state Assembly minority leader – “Jobs, jobs, jobs. This is what this project is about. If we could do one of these projects every single day it would send a great message that New York state is back in business.”
Dave Kaiser, the Romulus supervisor, “I am well aware of the important role of agriculture in our area. I am happy to welcome Seneca BioEnergy to our community. We look forward to more public and private partnerships.”
Marianna Pugliese, an aide to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, read a statement from Gillibrand, which said in part: “Smart initiatives and clean energy create new good-paying jobs.”
Joe Rizzo, Regional Manager of Economic Development for
NYSEG/Rochester Gas & Electric, which upgraded electric power into Seneca BioEnergy’s depot site, called the company “another economic development success story. We’re looking at the long-term future of the depot property.”
Bob Pass of NYSEG presented an economic development check for $116,550 to Seneca BioEnergy.
After the speakers, the Seneca BioEnergy “Green Team” demonstrated the processing of grape waste pomace from local wineries and the stockpiling of dried grape seeds in preparation of pressing for grape seed oil production. Guests were given the opportunity to taste the extra virgin grape seed oil and discuss plans for continued growth of renewable energy and agricultural processing at the facility.
Photographs: Pic 1 | Pic 2 | Pic 3
Seneca BioEnergy has gone from blueprints to construction to production and we plan to celebrate this accomplishment with a special event at our green energy complex at the former Seneca Army Depot.
We would like you to join us at 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, at our complex, Seneca AgBio Green Energy Park, 6238 State Route 96, Building 357, Romulus, NY 14541. Watch our production work and learn about plans for our future growth.
With the 2011 wine grape harvest under way, Seneca BioEnergy has started processing grape waste pomace from numerous local wineries, separating grape seeds that ultimately will be pressed to yield Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil. Our product is the first local grape seed oil, a healthy, extra virgin oil with lots of nutrients.
We plan the start of our biodiesel production in the coming months.
We will be joined by local and regional guests, including New York State Sen. Michael Nozzolio, state Assemblyman Brian Kolb and representatives from the office of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the Empire State Development Corporation, the Seneca County IDA and others.
Please plan to join us for this proud occasion, which is open to the public.
Grape Seed Oil Production Begins
Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil is making its debut. Years of preparation came to fruition a few days ago as we began commercial production of the area’s first locally made grape seed oil at our complex in Romulus.
As the 2011 harvest proceeds for the grapes of the famous Finger Lakes wine region, we are making cold-pressed, extra virgin grape seed oil at our facility in the former Seneca Army Depot.
Our grape waste pomace processing system involves a series of four separation, screening and drying steps to remove grape seeds from the pomace and to stabilize the grape seeds for on-site storage, in preparation for our cold pressing operations. The initial separation step involves trommel screening using specialized equipment – a large trommel (see photo) that is now busy processing pomace at our complex.
Seneca BioEnergy production plans on track
ROMULUS — Seneca BioEnergy plans to begin commercial production of grapeseed oil later this month, a development three years in the making. That could be followed by production of biodiesel fuel in December. In 2008, Seneca BioEnergy purchased two warehouse buildings, with more than 40,000 square feet of space, at the former Seneca Army Depot. Private money and a Restore New York grant paid for infrastructure upgrades each of the past two years. In the past year, the company completed a series of pilot tests in biodiesel production and grape-waste processing and finished building improvements.
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Finger Lakes Grape Seed Oil is making its debut. Years of preparation are coming to fruition this fall as we begin commercial production of the area’s first locally made grape seed oil at our complex in Romulus.
As the 2011 harvest proceeds for the grapes of the famous Finger Lakes wine region, we will be making cold-pressed, extra virgin grape seed oil at our facility in the former Seneca Army Depot.
Our grape waste pomace processing system involves a series of four separation, screening and drying steps to remove grape seeds from the pomace and to stabilize the grape seeds for on-site storage, in preparation for our cold pressing operations. The initial separation step involves trommel screening using specialized equipment – a large trommel (see photo) that recently arrived at our complex.
For more information about buying this new product, click on the Order Now button above.