Lenny & Meg Cecere


Lenny and Meg Cecere, with their three children have always been a part of the Geneva community until they decided to relocate to south Florida in 1980. In Florida, they own a general contracting business but they have since spent their summers in Geneva, on the lake. After Vinifera was introduced to the area, they wanted to fulfill their dreams and desires of growing the best possible fruit and making the best possible wine in the Finger Lakes area. Their children Michael, Jackie and Alex all play important parts in the family winery.

Winemaking and culinary activities have been a family tradition for centuries. It felt right for the Cecere’s to continue that tradition with Ventosa Vineyards with the winery, café, and banquet facility. Keeping in the family tradition, all of the Cecere children have been a part of the Ventosa Vineyards business.

Ventosa comes from the Italian word “vento” which means windy. “Ventoso” means “lots of it”. They tweaked it because Ventosa sounded more romantic. Being a winery on the East side of Seneca Lake, Ventosa does get windy conditions that make it true to its Italian name. The design at Ventosa is Tuscan-themed. Lenny and Meg traveled to Italy several times and made sure that the interior design and exterior of Ventosa’s building was true to the Tuscan style. Lenny designed and built Ventosa himself with the help of several family members including his niece, Katie Dizillo who was the architect that designed Ventosa. The building of Ventosa Vineyards started in the fall of 2004 and the completed facility opened its doors September 25, 2005. The vineyard was planted in 2000 and the first estate harvest was in 2003.

Lenny, Meg, and their family always strive to follow Ventosa’s mission of “Excellence”. This means cultivating the best fruit, producing the best wine, creating the best food and providing the best customer service. The wine itself has won numerous awards, many of them Gold medals in competitions internationally, nationally and state wide. Ventosa’s ’11 Lemberger won the NY State Governors Cup, which was the first red varietal to win the award. Lenny and Meg have often told staff, “If we maintain our mission of excellence, they will all come.”

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Jeff Harvey

Winemaker and Vineyard Manager

Jeff Harvey’s path to a wine-making career involved stints in the Biotechnology field; over a decade of work in various fine dining establishments; and, a great deal of involvement in the tasting rooms, cellars, and vineyards of various wineries throughout the Finger Lakes region. He grew to appreciate the diversity of labor and skills required within the wine industry, enjoying the need to split focus between agricultural, cellar, and laboratory skills in order to successfully harvest fruit and produce wine on a commercial scale. Jeff completed a degree in Viticulture and Wine Technology at Finger Lakes Community College before accepting a position to help out with harvest at Ventosa. He worked as the Winemaker’s assistant before transitioning to the Winemaker position.

Jeff appreciates Ventosa’s commitment to excellence and the accompanying support and professionalism displayed by the staff that he has the good fortune to be working with. Jeff looks forward to working toward the continued success of wine and agriculture within the Finger Lakes.

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RJ Passalacqua

General Manager

RJ feels fortunate enough to have grown up in Geneva in the heart of the beautiful Finger Lakes Region. After graduating from college and spending some time out West and in Florida, he found himself back home.

RJ worked in the hospitality industry for many years before being introduced to Ventosa Vineyards in the spring of 2005. He was hired to manage Ventosa Vineyards as the facility was being built. This was a lot of work and it was a great day for RJ when Ventosa opened its doors on September 25, 2005.

RJ considers himself extremely lucky to have found such a wonderful job that he absolutely loves in the place he grew up. Working for the Cecere family has been an amazing journey thus far. Ventosa has a wonderful staff of great people and we look forward to welcoming you to Ventosa Vineyards for some excellent wine and food in the near future!

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Jan Van Allan

Winery Director

Jan was the first tasting room manager here at Ventosa and is happy to be back after almost 10 years!  She returned in 2017, part-time and is now a senior manager overseeing the winery and office. From managing the Finger Lakes Champagne House (now Penguin Bay Winery), doing off-site sales for Swedish Hill & Goose Watch Wineries, managing White Springs Winery, and now returning to Ventosa, she is grateful to be in such an amazing industry…now going on 20 years! Prior to working in the wine business, Jan spent 10 years with public policy research institutes, Marketing Director for the National Center for Policy Analysis (Dallas, TX), and Development Director for the Pacific Research Institute (San Francisco, CA).  “I traveled and met many interesting people in my previous life, but coming back home to the Finger Lakes and working in this industry has been the most incredible time in my life.”, says Jan.

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Carl Bray

Executive Chef - La Vista e' Bella Ballroom

As one of the newest members of Ventosa’s team, Carl started on April Fools Day of this year. Carl was born and raised right here in the Finger Lakes. Carl considers himself lucky to grow up in a home with a great cook such as his mother while living just around the corner from a grocery store. At age 12, his mom would give him a grocery list after school for that night’s dinner. That became a daily chore that he enjoyed. He credits that time in his life for helping realize his passion and pursuing a life-long career. He enjoys the fast-paced, exciting energy of a kitchen you cant find anywhere else and finds it to be the most idle working environment! By the time Carl was 26, he had already spent a decade working in kitchens and realized that was the career path for him. He earned a 2-year degree in Culinary Arts at Alfred State College while working up to a Lead Chef position at Geneva on the Lake. He quickly realized how blessed he was to be working in such a inventive and booming industry in such a agricultural rich area of the world. He’s proud to say he is in love with food and all of its entertaining, innovative, and memorable possibilities…most of all, how it brings people together. He is thankful for being part of such a great team at Ventosa and is excited to bring his past experiences and passion for what this region offers in order to complement Ventosa’s mission… EXCELLENCE!

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