A friendly breeze welcomed us as we arrived at the Love Field airport in Dallas. This was the first time that I had set foot on Texas soil and I felt a wave of excitement surge through me as we began our exploration through this unfamiliar but thriving Metropolis. Upon hailing down a taxi, I received my first real introduction to Texan culture; Taxi driver: “Y’all California folk? Now that’s a long way from Dallas…well, y’all enjoy and take care, ya hear.” I immediately fell in love with this place. Who wouldn’t? Texas accents were like music to my ears.
Our agenda for the next few days was quite simple. We were there because my darling mother was being recognized as one of the Women Wine Stars, alongside legendary vintners like Dolores Cakebread and Katheryn Hall by the prestigious Les Dames D’Escoffier. It was quite the honor and I was thrilled to join her side to represent Ceja as the next generation in the wine industry.
There was a buzz in the air the day of the big event. A sense of excitement seemed to radiate off everyone, as we were each interviewed by The Wine Channel T.V. with hostess Just Jess. After a few laughs on camera we cruised to La Duni, a very chic and Latino inspired restaurant. I can tell you one thing, Texans know how to eat. We feasted on a yummy brunch of chilaquiles paired with fresh squeezed tangerine mimosas. My kind of food heaven.
A few hours later I was standing in my BCBG gold stilettos walking through F.I.G. or the Fashion Industry Gallery. The who’s who of Texan society was there and the event itself turned out to be a huge success. Halfway through the event, the honorees were celebrated by parading through the crowds of thirsty admirers waving flags of their respected winery, followed by brief speeches on their trials and tribulations. It was inspiring to hear the voices of such powerful women who've made such remarkable impacts in the wine industry.
The F.I.G hosted over 600 guests who sampled over 50 delicious wines from California and nibbled on a handful of top Dallas restaurant tapas. As the evening continued I couldn’t help but smile and think to myself; you know you’re in Texas when it’s a black tie event and half the men are wearing cowboy hats and a few women are in cowboy boots. An amazing sight. I envied them. My feet were killing me and I would’ve traded in my stilettos for boots in a second.
The next day, after a successful meeting with our new wine distributor we had a free afternoon and decided to explore Dallas by foot. Our journey began in the historical downtown district through the delightful afternoon sunshine. As we were taking advantage of the glorious sun I stumbled upon what I consider an amazing treasure- an authentic Western/cowboy store. I walked straight in and the heavy smells of leather welcomed my nose. The wall to my right was lined with over two hundred pairs of colorful cowboy boots and to my left a gorgeous display of antique turquoise jewelry. I spied a pair of low heeled chestnut boots and knew that they had to be mine.
As we walked back to our hotel, I felt a positive admiration for the city and its deep passion for food, wine and authenticity. I felt almost at home and could imagine what life would be like living in such a flourishing city. The Texan sun began to set, illuminating the sky with deep red, pink and orange hues. It was the perfect way to end our trip to Dallas, but it definitely won’t be the last.
Until the next adventure amigos…
It's pizza time folks! Dalia Ceja, Sales & Marketing Manager at Ceja Vineyards shares one of her favorite pizza incarnations made with fresh and zesty ingredients. Paired with Ceja Vineyards Vino de Casa Red Blend, this delectable dish will have you singing "Mozzarella!"
Try something new with one of Dalia Ceja's exciting new culinary creations - a savory open face sandwich with golden baked cinnamon bread topped with spicy jalapeño pepper jack cheese. Pair it with a glass of Ceja Chardonnay and you're on your way to a sensory epiphany!
2010 has already proved to be an exciting year for me and my traveling gnome – a bottle of sexy Ceja wine. Traveling has always been an addiction and a passion in my life so last year I embarked on a five month backpacking journey to South America, exploring 5 different countries with my best friend Katie, a bottle of Ceja wine and our crazy imaginations. Unfortunately, the bottle of our 06’ Red VDC only lasted until Peru, where we thirstfully enjoyed it sitting in the magical ruins of Machu Picchu. Quite appropriate don’t you think? From that moment on, I decided that anywhere else I traveled in this world I would take along my little traveling companion and represent Ceja bringing on interesting adventures, sometimes strange looks, but always good luck!
My most recent trip to Brazil and Argentina proved to be very enlightening and unforgettable. I spent the first part of three weeks in Rio where I celebrated the New Year on the beaches of Copacabana dancing to Samba music in a sea of two million people dressed in white (as a symbol for luck and peace), while the starry skies illuminated with thousands of fireworks. Besides the cheers from the crowd, the thunderous pop of thousands of Champagne bottles reverberated through to our souls. It was beautiful to see that even sparkling wine could be appreciated in the hot and tropical parts of the world. After all, bubbly is the sweet nectar in life and I never need a reason to drink it...enough said.
The next several days in my beloved Rio were spent marveling over the gorgeous beaches that surround the city while educating my palate with the variety of passion fruits, juices and baked delights that were available at every corner. Considering the heat and humidity of Rio I thought it best not to open the bottle of Ceja wine until a more suitable setting presented itself; the cool and seductive metropolis of Buenos Aires struck a chord.
Leaving behind the beaches and intense heat, I found myself excited to return to Buenos Aires, a city that never sleeps and is alive with Tango, wine and the delicious Argentine gastronomy. I spent a lot of time in Buenos Aires last year but I was determined to revisit and explore the city with the intensity of a Porteño (a local) and not a tourist. I would wake up in the mornings and go for walks through the old streets of San Telmo, a charming and colonial part of the city and would stop at a local cafés and sip espresso paired with yummy breakfast empanadas - my favorites being jamon y queso or carne con cebolla. Mmmm…I can almost taste the fresh baked empanadas right out of the oven.
I was on a mission to seek new adventures and find the hidden treasures of such a fascinating city. One gorgeous afternoon, a group of lovely hostel friends and I decided to explore La Boca barrio which is known for its colorful houses and street tango. En route, we encountered a Porteño who informed us that La Boca tended to be a bit dodgy and that we should keep a watchful eye on our belongings. I was not too worried though as we’d be visiting in the middle of the day. Besides, my trusty gnome was on-hand to protect us should any debauchery arise! In the end, my risky curiosity paid off as we descended upon La Boca and had a magical time.
Tango and wine anyone? Tango has to be one of the sexiest and most sensual dances in the world and this charming duo happily agreed to strike a pose with my little gnome. Hot right? I found the colors of these old houses to be quite striking and couldn’t resist having them as my backdrop.
The rest of the week passed by too fast and finally the day came that I turned 25. Yep, I turned a quarter century in the midst of my South American travels. My Birthday could not have been more memorable. Surrounded by good food, marvelous friends and Ceja wine…what more could one ask for? We ate, laughed, danced and lived in the moment...we conquered Buenos Aires that evening.
Celebrating the New Year in Rio and turning 25 in Buenos Aires was a dream. As I write this I am flooded with all the delicious memories from the trip that will live with me forever. I am also reminded of my own philosophy in life: live your passions. Now, I ask you, are you living your passions? If not, I invite you to spread your wings, open a bottle of wine and ponder what your passions in life are and live them.
Until the next adventure amigos…
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!