Vineyard Worker to Award-Winning Vintner, Thirsty Girl, I think so. Amelia Morán Ceja was born in Las Flores, Jalisco, Mexico – an agricultural village with a population of 50 residents. Her earliest memories are helping Mamá Chepa, her grandmother, in the kitchen, and being involved in cooking. Stirring, chopping, cutting – she had already began her solo-cooking career – and TG status. After the family’s move to California, Amelia returned to Mexico had the opportunity to travel throughout Mexico where she discovered the richness and diversity of regional cuisine in every state.
After Amelia and Pedro, her husband married in 1980, they purchased their first parcel in their beloved Carneros in Napa Valley. From the get go, her philosophy in winemaking became evident – to produce wine that reflected the place where the fruit was grown, farming practices, and gentle approach in the vinification process. Most importantly, the wine has to complement all the food that Amelia loves, and therefore, balance in her wine became her mantra.
Ceja Vineyards was founded in 1999, and Amelia became the first Mexican-American woman elected president of a wine production company in the history of the wine industry. 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.
Her contributions to the wine industry were recognized on March 15, 2005, when she was named “Woman of the Year” by the California Legislature. “Amelia is a great role model for the next generation of Latinos,” said Senator Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata). “She has not only broken the glass ceiling in a very competitive business but has earned respect throughout the wine industry.”
A testament to the quality, beauty, and balance of her wines is readily visible in the wonderful restaurants that carry our Ceja wines throughout the United States ranging from French, Asian, and of course, Mexican food – we are the new American Table. ¡Salud!