For the Love of Grapes – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

For the Love of Grapes

“On days that I am in the vineyard, I often look across the lake at the boat house and the rest of HWS where I spent so much time growing before I ended up where I am now and realize how lucky I am at 23 to have such a wonderful opportunity,” says Jenna LaVita ’08 speaking about her new position as a fledgling winemaker at Ventosa Vineyards located in Geneva, N.Y.

A political science major and peace studies minor, LaVita graduated cum laude from HWS with the intention of studying law. “I originally wanted to go to law school before realizing how much more interesting vines and grapes are than court rooms.”

After graduation she stayed in Geneva to study and take her LSAT. Upon deciding against taking the law school route, LaVita moved back to her native Massachusetts where she worked revamping a local café’s wine list. Missing Geneva, she decided to move back and start an apprenticeship at Fox Run Vineyards, as well as taking a job at Billsboro Winery. She got hooked in the field and took an additional job in Ventosa Vineyards tasting room, shadowing Ventosa’s previous winemaker and falling in love with the business.

“I finally found my home here in Ventosa’s cellar and out in the vineyard munching on grapes.”

After spending time learning the trade of winemaking, she took a leap of faith and decided to pursue it as a career. “I love wine, I love its complexities, I love the experiences it creates and the joy it brings to people,” she says.

Though LaVita is in a very different place than she had expected to be in when she graduated from HWS, she considers the route she took to get here an invaluable process. She says her professors inspired her to “take a chance on doing something I love just because it might work.”

Needless to say, LaVita is content with where her HWS inspired journey has taken her.

Ventosa is a 22 acre vineyard on the northern end of Seneca Lake, less than 5 miles from the HWS campus. Visitors can relax in Ventosa’s café or tasting room, while enjoying breathtaking views of the lake.