A brief history
“Our mission is excellence,” says Lenny Cecere, proprietor of Ventosa Vineyards— and he means it. With the modus operandi of a devout perfectionist, Lenny is putting this winery on the map, one happy wine-drinker at a time. “Ventosa” translates to windy in Italian, and the name sets the stage for the winery’s Italian-inspired ambiance. The Mediterranean roots of the vineyard date back to Lenny’s grandfather who came to Geneva, New York, from Italy. Beer, wine and spirits were hard to come by when Prohibition and the Great Depression brought about hard times. As a tavern owner, Lenny’s grandfather learned to make his own wine as a means of survival. Driven by enthusiasm, Lenny pursued his own calling with the help of his wife, Meg. After years of careful planning, they opened the 65-acre Ventosa Vineyards in 2005. Lenny moved from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as a general contractor to pursue a goal that he, his father and grandfather shared.
Every year, Lenny and Meg return to Italy and have modeled the winery in Tuscan fashion to reflect their trips. The amber-yellow and terracotta interior of the tasting room offers an equally Mediterranean feel to the alfresco dining option on the terrace. Sitting on the northeast shore, views of Seneca Lake and the cool westerly winds keep diners company as they feast on Tuscan-inspired fare from Cafe Toscana: paninis, pizza, homemade soups, antipasti and biscotti with cappuccinos.
We hired consultants, which were paramount in establishing Ventosa, both in the initial set-up and consulting with Ventosa’s first winemaker, Eric Shatt. This team, armed with RJ Passalacqua as the general manager, aims for 100% in all that they do. Excellence in the fields equates to excellence in the bottle, making any necessary sacrifice to obtain this. Giving up volume for the sake of precision, Ventosa has set a bar that it intends to keep—a sure fire way to keep each visitor pleased. Grapes that lack perfection are pruned off and discarded. This results in a lower production volume, but higher quality fruit. Our average yield is 2.5-3 tons per acre=60-66 tons, that equates to 4,200-4,700 cases per year.
The vineyards at Ventosa consist of 23 acres of vinifera grapes. These premium grapes include Pinot Noir, Lemberger, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Chardonnay. Additionally, Ventosa grows Sangiovese and Tocai Friulano, Italian grapes not typically found in the Finger Lakes Region. Several of these bringing home dozens of gold, silver and bronze medals including international, world-wide gold medals at tasting competitions. The 2007 Pinot Gris won the prestigious Cum Laude award at the 2008 Wine Literary competition held in San Francisco. The 2011 Estate Grown Lemberger was selected as the winner of the prestigious 2015 Governor’s Cup trophy, marking it the best wine in NY. This was the first and only red wine to win this award. The wines were judged by a panel of experts from California, New York, Paris and London (among others) and included prominent wine writers, restaurant owners, and industry education specialists. For Italian vino-lovers however, there is tocai fruilano, a smooth, well-rounded northern white from Venice with notes of ruby-red grapefruit and honeydew. The sought-after Saggio—or wisdom, to Italian-speakers—is a Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc. Pronounced in the wine, flavors of black cherry, vanilla and tobacco compliment wild game, sharp cheeses and dark chocolate. An everyday favorite is the white blend, Vino Bianco, maintaining the body of a Chardonnay with the acidity of Vidal and Riesling. The winery goes to great lengths to perfect the wines and make certain they are enjoyed by guests. It is mandatory that all red wines stay in the bottle for 1 year before they are released for public sale. A lot of our wines are kept in barrels for up to 4 years.