It was during my last trip to Italy while walking through Rome in the Piazza della Rotonda with its fountain and the Pantheon both in view, that I and a couple of very dear friends decide to take a break from our sight seeing and stop for lunch.
A little café with tables sitting on the Piazza would allow us to keep our spectacular view while dining. Two men were sitting on the steps to the fountain singing in Italian, one clutching his guitar as it rested on his leg, the other slapping on his knees to keep the beat. It was one of those moments in time that you want to last forever.
We ordered an antipasto tray of local favorites, a traditional Roman pizza and some cured olives. To drink we ordered a carafe of the house white wine. It was not an overly complex wine yet it had good aromatic qualities of fresh pear and wild flowers with crisp minerality on the pallet. A Pinot Grigio I thought, but that was not important.
As the wine geek (that’s me), the Chef and the Fashionista all sat enjoying this simple lunch with the house wine, we were amazed at how all the flavors came together. While ordering we had decided that we would be drinking white so our menu choices were skewed in that direction. We had a hunch, however, that any dish we ordered would have paired quite nicely with the white vino della casa.
This would be a common thread in our dinning experiences throughout the rest of the trip. The local cuisine with the wines of the region would continually blow us away with how perfectly the flavors complemented each other.
Were the winemakers crafting a style of wine to complement the local cuisine or were the chefs creating dishes to complement the style of the regional wine?
I think it’s a little bit of both, but this was not done specifically for me on this trip. Nor was the Chef and Sommelier conspiring to supply these three random tourists with a perfect food and wine pairing at the cafe. It's quite clear that wine has a rich history in serving as an accompaniment to food. When wine first entered the scene, it was often safer to drink than the local water supply with little thought given to it as a "sensory enhancing" beverage. Over time though, as regional cuisine and local wine-making traditions developed, gastronomy emerged as link between culture, food and drink. This is true wherever you travel or whatever style of cuisine you are enjoying: bratwurst and sauerkraut with a dry German Riesling, thinly sliced Serrano ham with a glass of bone dry fino sherry or boeuf bourguignon with a red Burgundy.
Next time you visit your favorite restaurant or travel abroad, select a wine that comes from the same region as your dish and you will be pleasantly surprised how well they conspire to pair beautifully together.
Running has been integral part of my life for 17 years now. A long time team sport athlete, I began running my sophomore year in college to help battle the loathsome freshman fifteen. I joined my college cross country team at the beckoning of my soon-to-be coach and never looked back. While I wasn’t the top runner on my team – I was very green – I was dedicated and enjoyed the challenge. By my senior year I made the top 20 in my conference and had really gotten the running bug. I finally broke the 20 minute barrier and logged a PR for a 5K at 19:36 after graduation. I learned a lot from my teammates (what not to do as well as what to do) and a wealth of knowledge from my overly dedicated nerdy but awesome coach.These days I have logged many miles in many different countries, run loads of road races, made tons of running friends and now I can literally walk out the door of my office at Ceja Vineyards and run through the rolling hills of Carneros, amidst the mustard and vines, in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Today marks 2 days before my fourth half marathon and I stand before you totally unprepared, but not afraid. I have a mere 20 miles logged this week and none of them very satisfying. I ran my first half back in the late 90s in Colorado and it was grueling! I was a newbie to Colorado and to trail running and a good half marathon in the foothills of the Rockies will break a girl in quickly. But many years later, and a few half marathons the wiser, I know a 13 mile run is not anything to fear. Especially through Golden Gate Park on a cool February morning and with a Super Bowl Party with friends awaiting me afterwards. Bring it on Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon. I fear you not!
~Wine Club Wendy
Ceja Vineyards would like to thank everyone who participated in the Haiti relief fund wine special. Your commitment to helping is sincerely appreciated. We were overwhelmed with the positive response we received, and we are proud to announce Ceja Vineyards accrued over $1500 from wine sales and is rounding up the donation amount to $2,000.00 for the American Red Cross to aid Haitians afflicted by the earthquakes.
The goal of Ceja Vineyards is to continue to make a difference in the wine industry and beyond. With your help, we will continue to see improvements in the world, one step at a time.
Thank you again for your generous support!
What does a running club and a wine club have in common? C’est moi! As the Wine Club Manager here at Ceja Vineyards I spend a lot of my time talking with members, pouring wine, setting up appointments for tastings, and dealing with wine shipping logistics. But on the off hours I belong to another type of club, the Vinerunners here in Napa. Our motto is “a drinking club with a running problem” for a very good reason! Almost everyone in the club is connected to the wine industry in one way or another and very dedicated to it – we are in the Napa Valley after all – but we are also very dedicated to running. Often when I move to a new city I immediately begin searching the web for a running club, I know we will instantly have a commonality and there will undoubtedly be runners in my ability range, but here in Napa it is two-fold. Wine and running? What could be more perfect? For me, not much else. So the next time you are visiting Napa and if you have an inkling to go for a scenic run with some wine drinking running fools, come meet us on Thursdays at 6 pm or at 8:30 am on Saturdays at the Napa Running Company, 942 Main Street in downtown Napa.
Wendy Newman, Ceja Vineyards' wine club manager, explains the ins-and-outs of this fabulous familia. You can join the fun too! From festive fiestas to access to exclusive award winning wines, being a Casa Ceja wine club member is a must for any wine aficionado.
Amelia Ceja prepares one of Mexico's most traditional pre-Columbian soups - Pozole. This dish is made from nixtamalized cacahuazintle corn. Amelia adds chicken this time around but pork, turkey, pork rinds or even sardines can compliment this warm soup. Vegetarian and vegan versions also exist. Amelia chooses Ceja Vineyards' Vino de Casa Red Blend as the perfect wine pairing. Salud!
Liz Mazzei, winner of Ceja Vineyards' "Facebook Recipe Entry Contest", joins Dalia Ceja at the Ceja Vineyards' kitchen to present her winning dish of California Chicken Noodle Soup. The two gals cook and drink their way through this delicious presentation!
With 2009 drawing to a close and the holidays in full swing, there comes a time for gratitude and reflection. Stopping to think about my last 8 months here at Ceja Vineyards I realize how much knowledge I have gained, how many new friends I have made, and the good times that have been had. I have learned so much about food and wine it’s hard to know where to start. My very first week working here Amelia showed up with 60 fresh oysters from Hog Island, and I watched as she and Javier barbequed them to perfection (in front of the camera, of course), added a little Mexican flare, and then we all plopped them in our mouths with some Ceja Chardonnay to wash them down until our bellies were full. I had to pinch myself, is this really where I work? As the days passed on, I grew to realize that this was a way of life here at Ceja Vineyards. Not only was my wine knowledge growing on a daily basis, but I was also learning about cooking and pairing various foods with wine.
My significant other and family are delighted when I come home and use some of my freshly learned cooking tips and recipes. They look at me slyly and ask, “Did you learn this at work?” Some favorites so far have been the Cabernet Reduction Sauce that I lightly poured over a plump filet mignon and the Chardonnay Poached Pears for dessert paired with our Dulce Beso late harvest wine (you can find the recipes and videos on our website and Facebook page). I hope you have had a chance to try your hand at cooking some of the recipes that we have shared with you – and please let us know how it goes, we love to get feedback!
For all of you out there that I may have helped solve a shipment issue, fixed a credit card glitch, or, if I was lucky enough to actually spend some time in the tasting room with you and our lovely wines, I want to thank you for being a part of the Ceja vision and family. Assisting you and bringing these wonderful wines to your table is a great joy to me and I am honored to do so. Here’s looking forward to a fantastic New Year ahead of us, more amazing wines, great food, and lots of good friends!
~Wine Club Wendy