Dining OutFeatures

Wine Down and Relax

By Christopher Malone

Seneca Lake winery feels like a getaway

The Finger Lakes region continues to be a tour de force destination for both in-state and out-of-state visitors. 

The expansive area consisting of 11 long and narrow lakes covers Western and Central New York, plus dips into the Southern Tier. 

Ventosa Vineyards, located at 3440 state Route 96A in Geneva, sits up at the top of Seneca Lake. The Italian villa-inspired winery offers a New York state winery experience year-round with a cozy atmosphere and a vibrancy in the summer. 

From larger events to bus tours, Ventosa is accommodating. Some nights they offer live music and they offer food service at their Café Toscana and wine bar. For a tasting, $10 will get a visitor five samples. 

The small menu had nothing but eye-catching options, although many were familiar takes on soups, appetizers, sandwiches and more. 

Sometimes familiar isn’t a bad thing. As always, it just comes down to the taste. Plus, if you’re looking to get a beverage with your meal, the winery adds wine pairings with the description of each option.

French dip sandwich ($14.65): shaved sirloin sandwich on freshly baked ciabatta bread with sautéed onions and covered with provolone

The escarole and bean soup ($4.25/cup or $6.25 per bowl) kicked the meal off. It’s just like Nana used to make, in my opinion. The serving of the soup was filled with white beans, prosciutto and, of course, escarole. The soup even had a slight kick. I could eat soup year-round and would order this again in a heartbeat. 

Off to a great start, the freshness of the ingredients, in retrospect, was an indication of the options to come.

The French dip sandwich ($14.65) is also something to take note. The shaved sirloin sandwich comes with pickles and chips made in-house. The tender sirloin is joined by sautéed onions and covered with provolone cheese. And, by request, the horseradish mayo adds a fun, slightly potent kick. 

The sandwich comes with freshly baked ciabatta bread with a crispy crust and small bowl generously filled with au jus. There’s plenty to dip your sandwich in. The already delicious sandwich felt complete with each dip into the dark broth.

The chips are incredibly crispy and not heavily salted — thankfully. 

The grilled chicken wrap ($13.95) is also served with crispy dill pickle rounds and chips. The wrap also proved to be an excellent choice. The halved wrap, which boasted a hint of garlic, displayed an array of bright ingredients. Aside from the chicken, the rolled-up handheld was filled with greens, artichoke, roasted red tomatoes and onions. 

The description also says a tomato aioli graces the inside of the wrap. Although, I didn’t pick up on that immediately, the orange glaze added that citrus punch. 

The wrap is my ideal meal. It’s packed with fresh ingredients. It doesn’t fall apart easily. And even small bites are large due to the amount of food wrapped up. 

And then there is pizza. There is an option to choose grilled or classic crust. Unfortunately, I didn’t read the menu properly and didn’t choose which crust I wanted. Fortunately, they gave me the grilled crust (I think). The personal pizza-sized crust was incredibly crispy but not rock hard. It held the ingredients. Plus, it was unlike a crust I’ve enjoyed. 

Genovese pizza ($13.45): pesto, grape tomatoes, roasted red peppers, onion, and mozzarella cheese.

The Genovese pizza ($13.45) had me at pesto, which was as vibrant in flavor as its color. Add on the grape tomatoes, roasted red peppers, onion, and mozzarella cheese and here’s a complete pizza. 

The big chocolate chip cookie that stared at me while ordering made it on the bill, too. How could it not? The flat but still chewy cookie wins any chocolate chip cookie lover over. I have no idea what the cookie costs because they forgot to charge me for it. I didn’t mean to swindle it on purpose.

Before tip, the meal and wine tasting before tip came to $72. 

Regardless of your personal opinions of New York state wine — I steer more toward dry wines — Ventosa’s food is darn good. As previously stated, they offer familiar fair, but the fresh and homemade focus really shines. 

And if you want to avoid the weekend crowds, pay a visit during the week for a more intimate, personal experience. But, still, the free people-watching on busy weekends is priceless. 

Ventosa Vineyards

3440 state Route 96A,
Geneva, N.Y. 14456

315-815-4022 | ventosavineyards.com

Café Toscana 

Sun: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Mon: – Tues.: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Wed: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Thurs: – Sat.: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Sun: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Mon: – Wed.: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Thurs: – Sat.: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.