PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. — Melissa Prospero knew from a young age that she wanted to take over her family’s winery. What she didn’t know was that she would play an integral role in helping it become a brand for makers and aficionados across Westchester County.
After they moved from Italy in 1973, her parents, Tony and Silvana, opened a small vegetable and fruit stand in Pleasantville. It blossomed into what is now known as Prospero Winery — a local company that ferments and ages wines made with crushed grapes from California and New York. Some wines include its White Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel. Prospero Winery also offers dessert wines, which are made with grape juices from Italy.
“The fact that my family and I took the fruit stand to a much higher level and have been able to expand is rewarding,” said the Mt. Kisco resident.
But the Prospero family has ensured that the company’s original purpose — to sell grapes to local winemakers — has not wavered. Fresh grapes arrive daily for home winemakers. For those who want to learn, you can get a free lesson most afternoons by in-house experts.
“A lot of people come here to buy grapes and knew my dad 38 years ago,” she said. Melissa and her brother Danny work as a team to manage the business and keep long lasting relationships with clients. Melissa works to oversee production of Prospero wines and source fruit from various vineyards. That task is especially important during September and October, when she focuses on the harvest season for the grapes. She is also marketing Prospero’s newest wines, such as this year’s Pinot Noir Rose and Sangiovese.
Given her vast practical experience, one might think Prospero picked up her business-savvy skills from working with her parents over the years. She also credits her study at a European business school in Italy, where she spent extensive time at a Tuscan winery, for much of her knowledge.
For Melissa, Prospero Winery is a family business she hopes to continue to develop and to see prosper.
“We hope to be here another hundred years," she added.