Mexican migrant workers came to California to pick grapes. Now they own wineries.
By Dave McIntyre; Photographs by Marvin Joseph, The Washington Post - May 30, 2017
They came from Michoacan or Jalisco, two agricultural provinces near Mexico City. Their fathers left for El Norte as migrant workers — some under the Bracero guest-worker program, others crossing the border illegally but gaining legal status in a time when papers were easier to come by. They worked in California’s burgeoning agricultural industry before settling in wine country.
Harvest Fiesta in Napa Valley: The Ceja family celebrates another year of plenty with family and friends
By Roger Morris; Photographs by Jon Mcferson, Intermezzo Magazine - Issue 39, 2016
It is a long way from the mountains of Jalisco, north of Guadalajara, where Amelia Morán Ceja was born and spent her early years, but she still rembembers the vivid colors, aromas and flavors of her childhood there - and still collects them daily in her garden and kitchen in the Carneros, the former sheep-grazing area where Napa Valley eases into the wetlands of San Pablo Bay, east of San Francisco.
Winery Owner Amelia Morán Ceja, Daughter Talk Latino Identity, Heritage (Video)
By Olivia Santini, Jim Seida, Jon Sweeny and Sandra Lilley, NBC Latino, "One Heritage, Two Generations"- September 2016
As part of NBC Latino's "One Heritage, Two Generations" series during Hispanic Heritage Month, the mother and daughter share how their Mexican roots have strongly influenced their family's upbringing as well as their work and their product.
Amelia Ceja: From farmworker to president of Ceja Vineyards (Podcast)
By Bill Swindell, The Press Democrat, “Drinking Stories” - June 7, 2016
In this episode, Bill speaks with Amelia Ceja, a Latina trailblazer in the North Coast wine industry. Her life has been the epitome of the American dream. She came from Mexico as a child and worked in celebrated Napa vineyards. She later joined her family’s winery, Ceja Vineyards, doing various jobs that led up to her becoming president in 1999. She also is an expert on food, especially what wines to pair with Mexican cuisine.
Mrs. Ceja goes to Washington: Smithsonian shines a spotlight on food in 'Cooking Up History'
By Sasha Paulsen, Napa Valley Register - May 2, 2016
Amelia Morán Ceja’s career as president of Ceja Family Vineyards has her often traveling the world. Still, she said the invitation to the nation’s capital was “pretty special.” The Smithsonian National Museum of American History invited Ceja, an avid cook and advocate of Mexican cuisine, to participate in its “Cooking Up History” program. The museum installed a demonstration kitchen in 2015 “to connect food programming to its many objects and research initiatives surrounding food’s place in history.”
Mindful Vineyards (Video)
By Earth Justice - September 2015
Some two million farmworkers grow and harvest our food each day, often working in fields sprayed with pesticides. Former farmworker Amelia Moran Ceja demonstrates that stewarding the land and your workers can be good for business. :Mindful Vineyards” features leaders and advocates from the business, labor and environmental communities, who honor the legacy of Cesar E. Chavez and call for justice in agriculture and protections from pesticides for some of most vulnerable workers in the nation.
Fashion Forward Amelia + Dalia
By Annabelle Pericin & Tamara Gorman; Photography by Vincent Gotti, Gastronomique En Vogue - May 8, 2015
March is typically a month where rain is part of the forecast but on this particular sunny Sunday, GEV is shooting their first mother daughter cover featuring Amelia and Dalia Ceja at Ceja Vineyards in the Napa Valley.
Dunne on Wine: California vintners see future in Mexico
By Mike Dunne, The Sacramento Bee - April 21, 2014
For the first time in 20 years, Amelia Moran Ceja is in Cabo San Lucas, the sunny resort settlement at the southern reaches of Mexico’s Baja peninsula. She’s finding that the town no longer is a dusty little fishing village as she marvels at the string of hotels, golf courses and restaurants along the 20 miles of beach stretching northeast along the Sea of Cortez to San Jose del Cabo.
TODAY Show: The American Dream - from migrant worker to wine maker (Video)
By NBCLatino - June 9, 2013
Amelia Ceja spoke to Today show’s Kristen Dahlgren about her journey from a small village in Mexico to California, where she discovered the love of winemaking and is living the American Dream.
Love on the Vine (Video)
By Office of Public Affairs, Growing California Video Series - March 12, 2013
The latest segment in the Growing California video series, a partnership with California Grown, is Love on the Vine, a story about a family that started as farmworkers and now owns and operates a Napa Valley winery.
Replacing Cervezas With Chardonnays
By Joel Millman, The Wall Street Journal - August 24, 2012
In 1967, Amelia Morán Ceja emigrated to the U.S. to join her father, a farmworker who toiled for years in California's vineyards. Today she's crossing another border, turning upwardly mobile Latinos into wine aficionados is with her subtle blend of viticulture, down-home cuisine and a Web-based marketing campaign.
Ceja family shares passion with new online cooking show
By L. Pierce Carson, Napa Valley Register - August 20, 2012
The Ceja family would like to change the way people eat. Parents and children alike in this wine-centric house believe it’s important for families to gather around the kitchen table, to take adequate time to enjoy a meal together, to share both highs and lows in one another’s lives.
Inmigrantes que conquistaron El Valle de Napa (Video en Español)
By Univsion - Summer 2011
De 400 viñedos 12 son manejados por mexicanos que inmigraron sin nada y ahora son 'los amos del valle'.
MSN re:discover - Napa Hot Air Ballon Ride with Dalia Ceja (Video)
By MSN re:discover Insider Profiles - Summer 2011
Dalia Ceja often jokingly tells people, "I don't have blood in my veins, I have wine." Wine has certainly been a part of Ceja's life for as long as she can remember. As a little girl, the Napa-area native remembers playing amid the family vineyards alongside her brothers. In some ways, the 27-year-old still sees the vineyards as her personal playground.
Inside the White House Kitchen
By Risa Wyatt, Wine Enthusiast Magazine - Issue: March 2009
So... what's it really like inside the Obama White House? Amelia and Dalia Ceja of Ceja Vineyards in the Napa Valley had a look recently on a private, two-hour tour of the Executive Mansion. The visit was hosted by Daniel Shanks, the usher in charge of food and beverage at the White House since the Clinton administration in 1995.
Feast of the Senses
By Risa Wyatt, Photos by Victoria Yee, Wine Enthusiast Magazine - Issue: Best of Year 2007
There is probably no more compelling seasonal image than a festively decorated table groaning under an array of food and wine and ringed with upbeat revelers. The holidays typically take center stage for any gourmand worthy of the title; it’s an opportunity to bring family and friends together for a show-stopping array of special dishes and coveted sips from the cellar
Honorable Mention: The Ceja Family
By Nicole Gull, Inc. Magazine - January 2005
In 1967, a young couple named Pablo and Juanita Ceja left their small village in Michoacan, Mexico, for a new life in the United States. Like many migrants, they wound up in California's Napa Valley, where they found jobs picking grapes in the local vineyards.
Pickers to Vintners: A Mexican-American Saga
By Eric Asimov, New York Times - October 17, 2004
NAPA, Calif. - When Amelia Morán Ceja and her brother-in-law Armando Ceja look out at the vineyards around her house, they can also see the past, when their fathers traveled from Mexico to harvest fruit in stifling heat for meager wages. Ms. Ceja can still feel the grape juice on her hands, made raw from helping her father tend the vines in fields just like these.
Mexican matches: Napa's Ceja family shows that wine is a winning complement to the smoke and spice of south-of-the-border cuisine
By Carol Ness, The San Francisco Chronicle - May 1, 2003
Shrimp are marinating in cayenne and paprika. Serrano chiles are going under the knife for the sake of the guacamole. Longaniza sausage is giving up its fat in a frying pan. A feast of Mexican home cooking is in the works in the Ceja family's kitchen. And there's not a margarita nor Dos Equis in sight.
Braceros to vintners in a generation
By David Shaw, Los Angeles Times - February 5, 2003
Lunch begins with lightly smoked salmon. "You have to drink our 2000 Chardonnay with it. It comes from right out there." Amelia Moran Ceja is standing at the stove in the family kitchen, gesturing toward the vines 250 yards from her front door in the Carneros district of southern Napa.
American Dream: Cejas Release Wines Under Their Own Label
By Jeff Morgan, Wine Enthusiast Magazine - June 2002
Until she was 12 years old, Amelia Ceja lived in the small Mexican village of Las Flores—population 60—about 350 miles northwest of Mexico City. There was no electricity or running water. “We took our water from the river,” Ceja, now 46, recalls.
All Press Articles
Tale of the Harvest in Napa Valley
By Roger Morris; Photographs by Jon Mcferson, Sip Magazine - Issue 8, 2016
At harvest time each year, the Ceja family celebrates the American dream, Napa Valley Style. There is a promising crop of grapes on their 113 acres of vineyards which they use both to make into their Ceja brand wine and to sell to other winemakers. In addition, their family garden is overflowing with fresh tomatoes, peppers, beans another vegetables.
The unstoppable Amelia Morán Ceja, president of Napa Valley’s Ceja Vineyards
By Peg Melnik, The Press Democrat - September 2, 2016
Amelia Moran Ceja wants you to challenge yourself. The president of Napa Valley’s Ceja Vineyards told a crowd of about 350 at the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa Thursday to “do something bigger than yourself.” “I want all of you to find something that makes you feel uncomfortable and go out and do it,” she said. “The only one who can stop you is you.”
Cejas tap family wine, beer expertise to capture more palates
By Jeff Quackenbush, The North Bay Business Journal - April 18, 2016
The family started Carneros Brewing Company in 2011 and currently produces around 1,000 barrels per year. However, the microbrewery has the capacity to increase production to 5,000 barrels or more, as demand warrants. With it’s first bottling line recently up and running and a deal jelling for distribution to a major beverage-alcohol chain, the brewery has demand frothing
Grape pickers are now winemakers
By Ellen Bhang, The Boston Globe - April 25, 2015
Earlier this month, Amelia Moran Ceja, the first Mexican-American woman to head up a wine production company, visited Boston. Between sales calls, the president of Ceja Vineyards in Napa, Calif., made her way to Walden Pond. “I could almost hear Henry David Thoreau’s words describing the seasons,” says the literature and history buff.
Best wines for Mexican food
Photos By Erin Kunkel; Styling By Nissa Quanstrom, Sunet Magazine - October 2013
We're thrilled to have some of our favorite family recipes featured and photographed by Sunset Magazine. The recipes include our citrusy salmon ceviche, eggplant salsa, easy lamb birria and Mexican mussels with sausage, mushrooms, and chiles.
Yadegaran on wine: Pintos and pinot? Ole!
By Jessica Yadegaran, San Jose Mercury News - June 3, 2013
Dalia Ceja wants you to put down that Corona and reach for a Carneros chardonnay instead.
Ceja, the social media guru for her family's Napa winery, Ceja Vineyards, has made it her mission to shift the public's perception -- and our palates' inclinations -- when it comes to Mexican food and drink.
Ceja Vineyards pairs pinot noir and seafood
By Nancy Hawks Miller, Napa Valley Rgister - November 21, 2011
For Amelia Morán Ceja, of Ceja Vineyards, food is love. Born in Las Flores, Jalisco, an agricultural village in Mexico, Ceja said her happiest memories go back to the kitchen on the family farm, helping her grandmother prepare meals.
Dalia Ceja: Finding her place in a family business
By Catherine Seda, Napa Valley Register - June 09, 2011
Dalia Ceja had a decision to make. After graduating from San Francisco State University in 2008 with a degree in marketing and communications, living and working in San Francisco, and then traveling to South America, Ceja had to decide whether and when she would join the family business.
A celebration of life at Ceja Vineyards in Carneros
By Annette Hanami, Napa Valley Insider Examiner - April 16, 2010
Arriving at Ceja Vineyards on a cool spring morning, one is struck by the impeccable landscaping – just one of many signs that the Cejas take pride in their work. Ceja was founded by Amelia and Pedro Ceja, Pedro’s brother and winemaker Armando Ceja, and his wife Martha.
2010: Year of the Woman in Wine
By The Tasting Panel Editorial Team - Issue: January-February 2010
As one of the few Latina women in wine in California, Amelia Ceja is determined to help shape the future of the consumer’s comprehension of—and abilities in—pairing food and wine. “I want to be thought of as being instrumental in breaking down the barriers of the mystification of wine,” says Amelia, who was appointed President of the Carneros-based winery when it was founded in 1999.
Food & Wine - Hidden, Affordable Napa Valley
By Tilar Mazzeo, Food & Wine - April 2009
My husband and I lived in Sonoma for six years. I loved our life, and I loved Sonoma, so much so that I wrote a travel guide to Sonoma’s small family wineries. Then, in 2007, my husband announced over dinner one night—and with heartbreaking appetite—that he wanted a divorce. I fled to New York for nine months, but I had to return to California because I had promised my publisher another travel guide, this one to the small family wineries of Napa.
Productores mexicanos de vino en California: una tarde inolvidable con Amelia Ceja y familia en Napa
Por Bernardo Mendez Lugo, Enlace Mexico Express - March 2009
Napa y Sonoma, California - El apellido Ceja se ha convertido en sinónimo de buen vino, no solo para los conocedores y catadores de vino en Estados Unidos sino a nivel mundial.
Wine for a Change
By Risa Wyatt, Wine Enthusiast Magazine - Issue: February 2009
In Washington DC, the Napa Valley is not just the toast of the town—wines from the acclaimed viticultural region delivered the first toasts to Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States.
Mural at Ceja illustrates juicy tale
By Jennifer Huffman, Napa Valley Register - January 30, 2009
A work of art depicting more than 8,000 years of viticultural history may not seem a likely fit on a 4-by-14 foot canvas, but that didn’t stop artist Maceo Montoya. Montoya was commissioned by Ceja Vineyards to create a mural of the history of winemaking, from 6,000 B.C. to today.
Amelia Morán Ceja: Award-winning winery rises from humble roots, perseverance
By Jeff Quackenbush, North Bay Business Journal - June 30, 2008
Passionate and fearless could equally describe Amelia Morán Ceja, president of small upscale wine producer Ceja Vineyards. The first Mexican-American woman to run a wine production company, Ms. Ceja is proud of her cultural and culinary heritage.
Vinum, cantus, amor - Ceja Vineyards' puts roots in downtown Napa
By L. Pierce Carson, Napa Valley Register - March 7, 2008
As far as the Cejas are concerned, it’s not only about wine. Their decision to locate an inviting, elegant tasting salon in downtown Napa came from a desire to provide the community with an opportunity to explore Latin culture through the arts, through cuisine, as well as through the family’s approach to winegrowing.
Napa wine family welcomes Cru Carneros for a festive lunch
By Sasha Paulsen, Napa Valley Register - October 31, 2006
“It’s one of my favorite dishes in the world,” Amelia Ceja declared as she surveyed the spread at the family winery’s new tasting headquarters in Carneros. There, on a perfect autumn afternoon, 24 young food and wine professionals were gathered around the outdoor kitchen where the Ceja family had set out all the fixings for tostadas in what one guest called “a serious spread.”
Una Empresaria Con Manos Campesinas
Por Lucero Amador, La Opinión - Febrero 7, 2006
Adonde quiera que va, Amelia Morán-Ceja lleva muy en alto el nombre de su compañía. A ella no le interesa lucir adornos que la hagan ver como una gran ejecutiva, aunque lo es. En toda su ropa de trabajo tiene grabado el logotipo de Ceja Vineyards.
Vintage journey: Two farmworkers blended their dreams and families to become owners of a prestigious Napa-area winery
By Jim Wasserman, Sacramento Bee - January 8, 2006
NAPA - The afternoon sun hung low over the Ceja family's vineyards and beamed through the window of the tasting room, warming a hardwood table filled with Mexican food and wine produced by farmworkers who realized the unlikely dream of becoming owners.
The ‘Fearless’ Wines of Ceja
By Alan Goldfarb, Appellation America - August 29, 2005
She’s a five-foot tall colossus of whit, strength, enthusiasm and intelligence. But most of all, Amelia Morán Ceja possesses in her diminutive body, enough energy to power the electric grid of the entire Napa Valley.
Mexican American Winery: A conversation with Amelia Morán Ceja
By Alan Goldfarb, St. Helena Star - July 14, 2005
She's a five-foot tall colossus of wit, strength, enthusiasm and intelligence. But most of all, Amelia Morán Ceja possesses in her diminutive body enough energy to power the electric grid of the entire Napa Valley.
Ceja Vineyards: Nuestra Historia
Por Amelia Morán Ceja - Mayo 9, 2005
Napa (California) – El sueño de tener nuestra empresa de produccion de vino propio viñedo esuna realidad para mi familia mexicana de Napa. Ceja Vineyards se fundó en 1999 y en menos de cuatro años, se ha hecho un nombre por su calidad y compatibilidad con la comida mexicana e internacional. Yo fuí elegida primera mujer mexicana presidenta de un viñedo de la región de Napa y Sonoma.
Learning The Vintners Art From The Ground Up
By Roger Morris, DelawareOnline.com - October 20, 2004
Amelia Morán Ceja met her husband, Pedro Ceja, when both of them were Mexican-born teenagers whose families had immigrated to Napa Valley. As Hollywood might have it, both were working in the same vineyard as teens. Today, Amelia is president and chief ambassador for Ceja Vineyards, and Pedro and his winemaker brother, Armando, are co-owners.
Ceja honorary co-chair of 'Three Tenors' concert
By Jack Heeger, Napa Valley Register - June 7, 2004
Amelia Morán Ceja is a woman who is always on the move. When she's not on the road selling Ceja Vineyards wines, she's in her office doing the multitude of tasks that a winery executive must do. She's also a chef, preparing Mexican dishes for visiting dignitaries and for friends whom she frequently entertains at home.
On Wine | Cultural diversity comes to winemaking
By Deborah Scoblionkov, Philadelphia Inquirer - April 01, 2004
A generation ago, many Americans viewed wine as the purview of pompous white guys in tuxedos sipping claret from crystal glasses. The only ethnic market for wine was Italian immigrants. African Americans and Hispanics were invisible to the wine world.
Harvest 2002: As crush begins, workers dream of a Wine Country career
By Linda Murphy, San Francisco Chronicle - August 28, 2002
They come from Michoacan, Jalisco and Zacatecas, from tiny farming villages like Haro, Las Flores and Aguililla, where they grow corn, beans and fruit and get barely enough compensation to make ends meet.
A Winemaking Journey
By L. Pierce Carson, Napa Valley Register - May 1, 2002
It comes as no surprise that one of the newest entries in the local wine trade is Napa's Ceja family. Virtually raised in and around Napa Valley vineyards, brothers Armando and Pedro Ceja spent after-school hours and summer vacations learning how to graft grape varieties, prune vines and taking part in the harvest every fall.
A History of Ceja Vineyards
By Ceja Vineyards - Updated 2016