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Pablo Ceja, his wife Juanita, and their six children immigrated to the United States in 1967 as part of the bracero work program. They initially settled in St. Helena in the Napa Valley and later moved to Carneros, where the family grew to ten children, with all working together in the vineyards.
One of the sons, Pedro, went to college and studied engineering, eventually marrying Amelia Morán Fuentes who was an immigrant from Jalisco, Mexico who had emigrated to the United States to join her father, a vineyard farmworker.. They had a dream of owning land and growing grapes and in 1983, the family pooled its resources and bought 15 acres in Carneros, planting 13 acres of Pinot Noir there in 1986.
Ceja Vineyards was founded in 1999 by Pedro Ceja and his wife Amelia, and Armando Ceja and his spouse Martha. There are now three generations working in the family business. Armando Ceja is the winemaker, a graduate of the University of California at Davis in viticulture and enology, assisted by Amelia who is the much-loved public face of Ceja Vineyards, the marketing talent behind the label, and the first Mexican-American woman to open a commercial vineyard and run a winery.
Ceja Vineyards now farms 113 acres of planted vineyards in Napa and Sonoma counties. The Ceja Vineyards are located on Las Amigas Road in Napa Carneros, Arnold Drive and Dale Avenue in Sonoma Carneros, and Adobe Road in Petaluma. Multiple varietals are produced including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Total production is 8,000 cases
The wines are sold primarily through a mailing list (many of which are Latino) and Wine Club. A wine tasting salon, lounge and art gallery is open daily 12:00-6:00 at 1248 First Street in Napa. The nearby Bistro Sabor, masterminded by Ariel Ceja of Ceja Vineyards, specializes in pan-Latino street food (tacos, Cuban tortas, and Salvadoran pupusas) all served with a wide selection of beer, wine and sake. Saturday Night Salsa Nights are a hit where the full menu is served until 1:30 AM and dancing (salsa, merengue, cumbia and bachata) from 10:30-1:30 is free.
Amelia performs videos on the web, starring in episodes of herself preparing primarily Mexican meals. Each episode features a wine that pairs with the dish.
2010 Ceja Napa Valley Carneros Estate Chardonnay
13.6% alc., pH 3.38, 1,000 cases, $34. Viña del Sol and Las Amigas Road vineyards. Harvest Brix 24.3º. 100% barrel fermentation with no MLF, aged sur lie 11 months in French oak barrels. · Moderate golden yellow color and clear in the glass. Very aromatic and complex, with scents of lemon pie filling, golden apple, banana fritter, pineapple, nutty oak and ocean air. A very well composed wine with generous flavors of citrus, tropical fruits and pear, bright acidity, a polished and slightly creamy mouthfeel, and surprising length of finish for a Chardonnay. Score: 90. Reviewed April 19, 2014 ARTICLE »
2010 Ceja Carneros Estate Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 1,000 cases, $40. Ready to release. Viña del Sol Vineyard. 100% de-stemmed. Aged in 10% new and 90% neutral French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Lovely aromas of fresh cherry pie glaze and baking spices. Elegantly fashioned and very appealing, with bright flavors of red cherries, strawberries, spice and mocha carrying over on a long, juicy, memorable finish. Very approachable with soft tannins, bright acidity and admirable harmony. Score: 90. Reviewed April 19, 2014 ARTICLE »
2009 Ceja Vino de Casa Napa Valley Red Blend
13.6% alc., pH 3.53, 2,000 cases, $20. Viña del Sol Vineyard. Average Brix at harvest 24.1º. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Syrah. Aged 23 months in French and American oak barrels. · A pleasant, easy-drinking wine with well-integrated tannins, a spark of acidity, dark fruits, mocha and peppery spice. A good food match would be chilaquilles. Score: 87. Reviewed April 19, 2014 ARTICLE »
2009 Ceja Sonoma Carneros Estate Pinot Noir
13.7% alc., 1,000 cases, pH 3.48, $40. Viña del Sol and Dale Avenue vineyards. Brix at harvest 24.7º. Aged 20 months in French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Shy, but appealing aromas of black cherry, raspberry and toasty oak. More rich sap and structure than the 2010 Estate Pinot Noir, with a core of earth-kissed darker red and black stone and berry fruits accented by notes of tea and savory herbs. The oak is beautifully integrated, the wine is nicely balanced, and the finish has uncommon length. Recommended food match is pozole. Score: 90. Reviewed April 19, 2014 ARTICLE »
2009 Ceja Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $50. Not released. Sourced from Adobe Vineyard located in the Petaluma Gap. Primarily Dijon clones. 100% de-stemmed. Aged 23 months in French oak barrels. · Medium reddish purple hue in the glass. A variety of aromas emerge over time including red stone fruits, plum, rose petal, dried herbs and smoky oak. Moderate in weight with flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, black tea and sassafras with complimentary oak and spice in the background. The tannins are suave and the finish has some generosity. Score: 89. Reviewed April 19, 2014 ARTICLE »
2008 Ceja Napa Carneros Dulce Beso Dessert Wine
11.6% alc., pH 3.44, residual sugar 14.6, 600 cases, $40. Viña del Sol and Las Amigas Road vineyards. Harvest Brix 34.2º. Stainless steel fermented, no MLF, aged 14 months in French oak barrels. A botryitized wine composed of 94% Sauvignon Blanc and 6% Semillon. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. A thoroughly satisfying way to cap a meal. Complex aromas and flavors of coconut, pear, white peach, honey and roasted nuts with refreshing acidity and a persistent finish. A good food match is Mt. Tam cheese. Score: 89. Reviewed April 19, 2014 ARTICLE »
2008 Ceja Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
13.9% alc., pH 3.48, 800 cases, $50. La Loma Vineyard located on the Silverado Trail. Harvest Grix 24.5º. Open top, small vat, cold soaked, extended maceration, gentle punch downs. Aged 34 months in French oak barrels. · Dark reddish purple color in the glass. A moderately rich, nicely aged wine with a slightly creamy core of black cherry, plum, cassis and blackberry flavors with modest complimentary tannins and a richly endowed finish. Very smooth in the mouth, displaying the impeccable balance typical of Ceja wines. Score: 91. Reviewed April 19, 2014 ARTICLE »
2005 Ceja Vineyards Sonoma Carneros Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., $38. · Scents of cherries, leaf, oak and spearmint. Melange of red fruits including cranberries with a hint of earth and green veggies. Medium-weighted, delicate in style with a smooth mouth feel and respectable balance. Oozes pinotosity. Reviewed June 16, 2009 ARTICLE »