Balance has been the key thus far in the several chapters I’ve experienced along my journey and growing knowledge for different wine cultures. I had an amazing time visiting the Ceja Vineyard, located in one of the best known wine regions, Napa Valley, California. The pursuit of visiting Ceja began with a good friend, Mario Pablo who shared a link to Ceja Vineyard’s winery with me on Facebook. After reviewing its website and reading the history of Ceja I knew I had to meet with the owners. Ceja is minority owned by a Mexican family and ran by women of three generations. I was impressed with their background and felt a special closeness to it.
I called another close friend of mine, Dowdy Giles, and asked if she would join me on this trip. A quick yes, followed by an immediate booking of a flight to California, the two of us packed our bags and were on our way the very next morning. We arrived in San Francisco and had plans to first meet with Dowdy’s aunt near Berkley. We had an excellent Mexican brunch; soft burritos and rice. This set our way to focus on the primary reason for our visit. At Dowdy’ aunt’s home we studied over a few maps and were able to agree on a short thirty-five minute route to Ceja Vineyard.
Stepping out of the car and taking in our real first breath of fresh Napa Valley air and looking around us, all we saw was a stretch of land miles long with floating vines. We made our way to the tasting room where we were welcomed with familiar salsa music. I instantly felt excitement rush through my body and knew I was in a Latino vineyard. The music made me want to dance; however, I contained myself and continued to observe the new surroundings. Along with the music that was playing the tasting room had a very Spanish feel to it. Its marble floors, special artwork featured Dia De Los Muertos, or “day of the dead,” and drawings of the future wine tasting room to be built later this year were also there for visitors to view and look forward to. We were first greeted by Barbara, a nice woman who worked in the tasting room. A few minutes later we met Dalia Ceja, Director of Sales and Marketing. It was her bright and enthusiastic personality that opened up a wonderful conversation and shared more information about Ceja’s foundation with us.
While speaking with Dalia, Amelia Ceja, Dalia’s Mother, Owner, and President of Ceja Vineyards came out of her office introducing herself to me in Spanish. Amelia is second generation of the CEJA vineyard and as her daughter described her best; one of the friendliest women you will meet that can light up a room with her smile. It is no wonder where Dalia gets these same traits. Amelia was also very open. We learned that the hard work from her parents were migrant workers from Mexico and worked the vineyards in California first. Shortly after, Amelia arrived in California and joined her family during the harvest time. The love for farming has definitely been instilled in Amelia. However, the real passion arose when the love for wine was discovered. Amelia met her husband and together they purchased the vineyard in the heart of Napa valley in the late 80’s. In the 90’s the first vineyard was planted.
We tasted Ceja’s wine: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, a house blend, and a dessert wine. All the flavor profiles can be accessed on their website, CEJA . After enjoying the owner’s lovely company and tasting their selection of wines I assumed we were through for the day, but we were invited to stay for a late lunch as Amelia’s son Ariel would join us. The food was excellent and no surprise, concreted the absolute feeling of Spanish ambiance. We ate tortillas, carne asada, salsa, rice, and drank more wine. It was wonderful to continue speaking with Amelia, Dalia, and Arial over a delicious homemade meal.
As the evening came to an end I could only think to myself, that none of this experience would be fun alone. I’m glad I was able to share this with my good friend Dowdy, and to meet such kind people who enjoy sharing their knowledge and love for wine. A toast to Ceja Vineyards! Amazing people making amazing wine, a balance that is fresh, warm, and not to be missed.