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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Marc Peterson

Winemaker and Vineyard Manager

Marc is a Finger Lakes native who returned to the area to make a career in the local wine industry. He studied ecology and botany at Plattsburgh State, and also was a freelance writer for a recreational magazine where he wrote about wild edibles. Once graduated, he moved to the Adirondacks where he worked as an executive assistant at a nonprofit and continued freelance writing. However, he sought a career change that utilized his scientific background and plant-knowledge, and winemaking provided that and more. “Winemaking is this awesome job where you have to be part chemist, part farmer, part mechanic, and all gastrophile. It is different every day and my skills and knowledge are constantly put to the test” says Marc. He is also a graduate of Finger Lakes Community College’s Viticulture and Wine Center.

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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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Nick Parish

Executive Chef - La Vista e' Bella Ballroom

As a native to the Finger Lakes area Chef Nicholas found his calling to cuisine in the local restaurant scene. After a few years in the industry and a term of military service, Chef Nicholas graduated from the world famous Le Cordon Blue Culinary Academy as Valedictorian. Upon completion of formal culinary training Nicholas then spent time in top tier restaurants all up and down the east coast to hone his craft. In 2013 he relocated back to Finger Lakes area where he then accepted the Executive Chef position at the beautiful and award winning Ventosa Vineyards. While developing a deep passion throughout his career for locally sourced ingredients and sustainable farming, Nicholas has since started his own Organic farm just outside of Penn Yan of which he supplies the local restaurants and markets with some of finest organic produce the area has to offer.

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