”Vineyard Workers to Award-Winning Vintners” by Ceja Vineyards
We have been growers in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys for forty-seven years and we have a profound respect for farming. With Armando Ceja at the helm, we practice sustainable agriculture, use integrated pest management strategies and cover crops. We match vines to terroir, planting each variety where it grows best. We have a traditional and contemporary UC Davis understanding of the winegrowing process, and we know firsthand that wine is made in the vineyard. We have 115 producing acres that yield balanced and beautiful grapes consistently. Some of our prominent clients are: Acacia, Robert Craig, Rombauer, David Bruce, Mumm, ZD and La Crema. Previously, we have sold our grapes to Saintsbury, Signorello, Cosentino, Beringer, Domaine Chandon and Domaine Carneros.
Ceja Vineyards, our wine production company, was founded in 1999. The principals are: Amelia Morán Ceja, President; Martha Ceja, Vice President; Pedro Ceja, Secretary; and Armando Ceja, Treasurer. Ariel Ceja, Amelia and Pedro Ceja's son, was named General Manager in September 2006, and Dalia Ceja, Ariel’s sister, was appointed Director of Sales and Marketing in October 2008. Our mission is to produce world-renowned wines that reflect our vineyard sites, our farming practices, and our gentle approach to winemaking. They must be food friendly, true to varietal and must age well.
We released award-winning wines under the Ceja label in 2001, and our current vintages are: 2011 Carneros Pinot Noir, 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 Carneros Merlot, 2012 Carneros Chardonnay, 2012 Sonoma Coast Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Sonoma Coast Syrah, 2010 Vino de Casa (a blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah), and 2009 Dulce Beso Late Harvest White Wine.
President Amelia Morán Ceja – first Mexican-American woman to be president of a wine production company – studied history and literature at the University of California in San Diego. Amelia worked in the wine industry for eight years, and 16 years ago, she left her job to concentrate all her energy on Ceja Vineyards. Amelia wears many hats: she is the contact person, a wine salesperson, a public relations person, the executive chef, a compliance specialist, a bookkeeper, a wine delivery person, a wine shipping person, a grape picker, and whoever else she needs to be. Under her leadership, Inc. Magazine selected Ceja Vineyards “Entrepreneur of the Year 2004” (one of seven) in the January 2005 issue. In addition, Ceja Vineyards was named “Best New Winery” in 2002 by over 90 of the world’s most prestigious wine writers, case production has increased from 750 cases to 10,000 cases per year, Ceja wines have received numerous awards and extensive media coverage, and Ceja wines are offered at some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the United States such as the French Laundry. Her contributions to the wine industry were recognized on March 15, 2005, when she was named "Woman of the Year" by the California Legislature.
Celebrated winemaker and Treasurer Armando Ceja began his winegrowing career at seven years old, and he made his first Cabernet Sauvignon barrel at 18 years old. After high school, he studied enology and viticulture at UC Davis, and he is a respected vineyard manager in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Armando takes our wines from the vine to the bottle handling the fruit gently to create our limited collection of handcrafted wines that are complex, perfectly balanced and memorable. Our Ceja wines are a reflection of his talent as a winegrower – they speak of their birthplace – our vineyards.
Secretary Pedro Ceja is an engineer with a great sense of humor, and a fountain of artistic inspiration. Pedro's input during the Ceja label development defined us. His "vinum, cantus, amor," contribution is our common link to our commitment to produce wines that speak of the place where the grapes are grown. During the day, Pedro works as an engineer for ThermoFinnigan. At night and on weekends, Pedro assists Armando with wine production, and Amelia with sales and marketing to promote Ceja wines. During the harvest and pruning seasons, Pedro takes time off from his day job to help with these tasks
Ariel Ceja was born in Hayward, California, to Amelia and Pedro Ceja, and he spent his first 18 years in beautiful Carneros working and playing in the vineyards. After high school, he attended Occidental College in Pasadena, CA, where he majored in Film Production. He graduated in May 2005, and he worked for one year at Domaine Chandon. He joined Ceja in 2006 and his vision is to sell more wine direct-to-consumer other than the traditional three-tier-distribution system. Due to Ariel's input, Ceja Vineyards opened a second wine tasting salon in Sonoma.
Dalia Ceja was born in Hayward, California to Amelia and Pedro Ceja, and like Ariel, she spent her first 18 years in beautiful Carneros working and playing in the vineyards. After high school, she attended San Francisco State University in San Francisco, CA, where she majored in Communications with an emphasis in Marketing. She continued her education at Sonoma State University and she received her Executive MBA in 2012. She was appointed Sales and Marketing Director at Ceja Vineyards in October 2012.
We strongly believe in women being active participants and having leadership roles in the wine industry, although sadly, there are few Latina women in this business. At Ceja Vineyards we all have key roles and we work as a team to establish our place in this industry.
We love to cook and our wines are a perfect complement to all types and styles of food. Our Pinot Noir is made from a minimally irrigated vineyard and it has a dense and silky palate with a long and lovely finish. Our Merlot is opulent with bright fruit flavors and a hint of black cherries and cassis overtones. The slow, cold barrel fermentation and extended contact with the yeast gives our Chardonnay a complex character. It has tropical fruit, lemon oil and mineral concentration aromas, with crisp and refreshing viscous mouthfeel on the palate. Ceja purposely inhibits malolactic fermentation, thus retaining the natural acidity and fruit character of the grapes. Our 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was aged in 100% French barrels (15% new, 85% neutral) and the fruit comes from our vineyard near the Silverado Trail just south of the Stags Leap District. It is brilliant ruby, fruit balanced with a hint of currant and black cherries. It is youthful, yet silky and mature. Its palate is both powerful and delicate with velvety soft tannins that are tightly packed and long lasting.
Amelia Morán Ceja was born in a small village in Jalisco, México. Her parents are Felipe Morán and Francisca Fuentes Morán. Her father visited the United States in 1947 for the first time and finally in September 1967, Felipe brought Francisca, Amelia and her sister Maria de la Luz to Rutherford, in the Napa Valley. Amelia's parents gave her unconditional support because they knew that women and men needed to be educated to succeed in this society. Her father was a mechanic at a local vineyard management company and her mother was a farm worker at the same company. During the summers and Christmas break, Amelia worked there as well.
Pedro and Armando Ceja are brothers and they were born in Aguililla, Michoacán. Their parents are Pablo Ceja and Juanita Castañeda Ceja. Pablo, after many years in the brasero work program, immigrated to the United States with his family in 1967. The family settled in St. Helena in the Napa Valley, and on weekends, the entire family worked in the vineyards. Juanita and Pablo worked at local wineries and they encouraged their children to go to college because they understood the importance of having an education. They taught their children to work hard and to love the land with the hope of having a parcel of their own someday.
Our children are the third generation. They have grown up amongst the vineyards working and playing together. We have emphasized, as our parents did, that education is empowering and will give them the freedom to follow their dreams.
We are grateful to our parents for having had the vision to bring us to this great land of opportunity to search for “our American dream.” Our history and our combined experiences have shaped our collective consciousness in that we have the passion and the tools to meet all future challenges. We are the new chapter of the California wine industry – we are the present and the future!
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