Guest Sommelier Agent K Contributes Her Thoughts On This Wine:
Earthy notes of wet undergrowth, strawberry and grape with hints of rose petals. The palate brings red cherry, chalk and pepper.
between missions I was enjoying some downtime at my favorite Napa wine lounge, when an urgent dispatch came through on my Wine Spy handheld. Central Command had received a flurry urgent inquiries for a GREAT red wine for less than $20.
Leave your misconceptions behind, was the clear directive. Find us a wine that drinks well above its price, and find it TODAY!
I had just one problem: I was hungry!
I asked the owner of the lounge where I could pick up great Mexican food. Before he could answer, I felt a hand on my shoulder. Turning as I reached instinctively for my corkscrew I saw young man with a flashing smile.
Like Tacos? he asked.
Uhh. Yeah. Love em, I replied.
And great wine, too?
Who doesnt? I said.
Follow me, he said.
After a short car ride later we turned into the driveway for Ceja Vineyards, a winery that I had heard only great things about.
Stepping out of the car, the aromas hit me. Spices, beans, grilled meat and red wine.
The young man, who introduced himself as Ariel Ceja, led me into a small outbuilding adjacent to the tasting room. Inside was smiling woman who hugged me as I entered. Ariel introduced me to his grandmother and invited me to sit down. Inside this room, the aromas were intoxicating.
Whats the matter? they asked.
I forgot, I replied I was supposed to find a great red wine.
Ceja Wine From The Vineyards To The White House
Dalia Cejas parents, Amelia Morán and Pedro Ceja, immigrated from Mexico to Napa Valley in the mid 1960s when they were both 12-years old. Their fathers were members of the Bracero Program were Mexican men worked legally in the US to help alleviate a labor shortage from 1942 to 1964. Amelia and Pedro met in middle school and picked grapes with their parents in the famous vineyard of To Kalon, owned by Robert Mondavi, and eventually married.
After saving money for years, in 1983 they combined forces with relatives, Armando, Martha, Juanita and Pablo Ceja, to make a down payment on 20 acres of land in the Carneros AVA of Napa Valley. There they planted chardonnay, pinot noir and merlot grapes, which they sold to other wineries. In 1999 they had accumulated enough money to launch a winery, Ceja Vineyards.
My mother, Amelia, was named President of Ceja Vineyards, says Dalia. There are many strong women in our family, including my two grandmothers, and Dolores Huerta. Dolores was a close family friend, and was the right-hand woman for Caesar Chavez. It is just coming to light about all of the work she did for social justice and helping Mexican-American families.
Bottles of Ceja Wine from Ceja Vineyards in the Carneros AVA of Napa Valley, CA
Propelling Ceja Winery To The Next Level
Today, as Dalia Ceja moves into a more prominent leadership role at the winery, she describes some of the challenges she has encountered and overcome. After college graduation and a 7-month back-packing trip through South America, Ceja returned home to help launch the winerys digital marketing and social media strategy. Now, the Ceja YouTube channel features hundreds of videos showing how to prepare Mexican food and pair it with wine.
Ceja also went on the road to assist with wine sales, but I found that many people didnt take me seriously. It was then that she decided to obtain an Executive Wine MBA from Sonoma State University, which gave me the credibility that I needed, along with business tools, mentors, and relationships.
Next Ceja began to serve in leadership positions on association boards, such as the Next Generation in Wine Association. Now she is assisting her family with their dream of growing the company and eventually building a winery and hospitality center. The vineyards are also thriving, having increased from the original 20 acres to 115 estate acres over the years.
With all of this on her plate, Ceja is also juggling winery work with being a new mother. It was challenging giving birth during the Covid epidemic, she says. Luna was born in June of 2020 and at one point, the hospital wasn’t sure if they would allow my husband in the delivery room.
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Alumna Dalia Ceja With Her Mother Amelia Morn Ceja President And Founder Of Ceja Vineyards In Napa And Sonoma Valleys
Dalia Ceja grew up in the wine industry, witnessing her parents overcome obstacles to establish Ceja Vineyards. She is now a third-generation Mexican-American shaping her familys winery and breaking barriers with award-winning wines.
While she grew up in the wine industry, Ceja has great respect for her familys humble beginnings. Her mother and father, both Mexican immigrant children of migrant agricultural workers, met in Napa Valley harvesting grapes. They eventually went on to purchase a vineyard and then created their own winery, Ceja Vineyards in 1999one of a handful of Latino family-owned wineries in California.
My family broke barriers and beat the odds to go from farm workers picking grapes during harvest time, to vineyard owners, to winery owners within less than 50 years, Ceja says. This is my definition of the American Dream.
Ceja now serves as the sales and marketing director for her familys winery, where she drives demand for their products and builds brand recognition in the U.S and Latino markets. As the face of the next generation in the family business, Ceja is no stranger to strong women entrepreneurs. Her mother, Amelia Morán Ceja, was the first Mexican-American woman to serve as president of a winery in the U.S. And in 2005, the California legislature recognized her as Woman of the Year for breaking that glass ceiling.
Welcome To Ceja Vineyards
Ceja Vineyards is a Mexican-American family owned winery founded by Amelia, Pedro, Armando and Martha Ceja producing premium estate grown wines from the Napa and Sonoma Valleys.
In one generation the Ceja family has gone from immigrant vineyard workers to grape growers and winery owners.
Enhance your wine knowledge as you learn about our rich heritage and see what makes the Carneros region such a premier grape growing region. Enjoy and sample a minimum of five wines from our portfolio that may include our Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vino de Casa Red blend and dessert wine.
The Ceja Wine Tasting Experience is $30 per person.
Situated right off Hwy 12 in Sonoma with lovely expansive views of the surrounding Carneros countryside, our wine tasting room is comfy and cozy inside and includes a private outdoor sitting area.
- Experiences will be one hour, so we may accommodate all guests and properly sanitize between reservations.
- Our Sonoma Wine Tasting Room is located on the same site as the Hanson of Sonoma Distillery.
- All animals on property must be service animals. Pets are not permitted.
Tasting Room Hours
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Strong Ceja Women And Delicious Mexican Food/wine Pairings
For Dalia Ceja the bond with her mother and other strong Mexican-American female role models is of constant support. My entrepreneurial daughter Dalia Ceja was one year old when we planted our first vineyard in Napa Valley, reports current President & CEO, Amelia Morán Ceja, and she helped her uncle plant the very first vine. There are few women in the wine industry and even less Latinas, and I knew she would thrive and contribute a new perspective. I’m proud of Dalia’s leadership role within our industry and community.
When asked about some of their favorite Mexican food and wine pairings, Dalia Ceja says that all of the recipes are on their YouTube Channel. But I am particularly proud of our molé poblano chicken paired with our Bordeaux blend, along with our lobster tamale with salsa verde that pairs very well with our chardonnay.
Indeed the lobster pairing is so popular that the Cejas will be featuring it at their 21st winery anniversary party in Napa Valley this August, where they are having a Lobster and Wine Fiesta to celebrate with their many customers.
Video of Dalia and Amelia Ceja Matching Mexican Food to Wine
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look Perfectly clear ruby red with sparkling pink at the edges with long, tightly-spaced legs
Smell Beautifully aromatic red fruit, cherry, plum with a Pinot Noir-ish gunpowder note and a pleasant hint of earthy undergrowth
Feel Wet, cool and smooth in the mouth balanced by big tannins
TasteUNIQUETASTEALERT! This wine presents juicy yet classic flavors of Pinot Noir and Syrah in almost equal proportion. With layered flavors that compliment each other rather than compete, this wine is an exciting wine to drink. Cherry, candy apple and plum with subtle cocoa and toasted vanilla round out this balanced and flavorful delight
Finish Long, dry and chalky a more classic Syrah finish with lingering flavors and a slight pucker that begs you to enjoy your next sip
When I bluster about a wine, know this: I MEAN IT. This is a fantastic wine, regardless of the price. This wine is a deal at the regular retail price of $20 and an outright STEAL at The Wine Spies price of $16. If you are looking for a stock-up-for-the-holidays budget wine, swing that mouse pointer to the ORDERTHISWINENOW button, well, NOW. Sign me up for at least a case.
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How This Mexican
Dalia Ceja, SVP of Sales & Marketing for Ceja Vineyards With Her Mother, Amelia Ceja, President & … CEO
At the age of five, Dalia Ceja remembers walking behind her father, uncles and other vineyard workers, picking up fallen grape clusters and putting them back in the harvest bins. As a second generation leader in one of the first Mexican-American wineries in Napa Valley, Ceja Vineyards, Ceja is currently the SVP of Marketing & Sales, and is looking forward to taking the family winery to the next level. In honor of International Womens History Month, the story of Dalia Ceja and the other strong female leaders in her family, lends inspiration to other women trying to build new companies and dynasties.
I want to pay homage to my Mexican-American culture, and use my voice as a platform to inspire women and minorities, says Ceja. In the male dominated wine industry, she wants to encourage other women to achieve leadership positions. Only about 10% of winemakers in California are women, and there are only around 25 wineries in the U.S. owned by Mexican-Americans, she reports. Things are getting better, but there is room for everyone at the table.