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Someone You Should Know: Suzanne Hunt

Suzanne turned that passion into a successful career that took her around the world. Now, she's bringing what she knows back to the Finger Lakes. (WHAM photo)

Branchport, N.Y. (WHAM) - Growing up on the family winery in Yates County, Suzanne Hunt learned to love the outdoors and care about the environment.

Suzanne turned that passion into a successful career that took her around the world. Now, she's bringing what she knows back to the Finger Lakes.

As a self-described tree hugger, Suzanne said she knew early on what she wanted to do with her life.

"As a kid it was not cool to be interested in the environment,” Suzanne said. “It was never cool to be from a farm, to be a tree hugger, whatever. Now all of it's in. Everybody wants farm to table, everyone's interested in solar and clean tech.”

Her expertise in such areas is now sought after around the world. Suzanne's Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm works with corporations and non profits that are looking for answers about clean technology, energy solutions and sustainability.

Three years ago, Hunt decided to leave D.C. to bring some of her knowledge back home to Branchport.

“Agriculture has always been hard and climate change is making it that much harder,” Suzanne said. “You can't make great wines without clean air, clean water healthy soil and a stable climate.”

Now, 350 solar panels are producing most of the electricity needed at Hunt Country Winery, which her family has owned for generations. There are bee hives and bird boxes, and geothermal heating and cooling solutions.

Suzanne said she is well aware of the skeptics who don't believe humans are impacting climate change.

“It's human nature. We want to believe what we want to believe,” Suzanne said. “And believing that our current way of doing things is threatening the future of the planet is not something that folks want to believe so it's a lot easier to believe the misinformation.

Hunt believes the wine industry, and the rest of us, need to deal with the effects of climate change and do what we can do slow it down.

“And ideally really transform to better ways of doing things that make our lives better," Suzanne added.

By returning to her roots, Hunt hopes the changes being made at Hunt Country will be an example for other wineries in the region. In fact, several other wineries are well into their own clean energy and sustainability efforts.

The next step at Hunt Country? Electric vehicle chargers will be installed this spring.

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