Tasting room moving to city of Sonoma, October 2014
Ceja Vineyards Tasting Room – Ceja (literally translates to “eyebrow” from Spanish to English) opened their new tasting room in early February 2008 and we visited shortly after they opened (we have since revisited several times). Their location anchors one of the entrances to the Napa Town Center (shopping mall) and is very centrally located, easily within walking distance of a number of other tasting rooms, restaurants, art galleries, hotels and shops. Ceja Vineyards is owned by two family’s – two brothers and their wives – Pedro and Amelia Ceja and Armando and Martha Ceja.
The story of the family’s role in Napa’s winemaking history started in 1967 when Pedro and Armando’s parents moved the family to California from Michoacan Mexico. The family would work seasonally up and down the state moving as the crops needed picking from lettuce in the south, to grapes to apple orchards further north. And then repeat the entire process each year. Eventually the family moved to the Napa Valley – first to St. Helena and then to the Carneros region which would ultimately become a region synonymous with the Ceja Family. Dalia Ceja (granddaughter) remembers hearing stories about how her grandparents met Robert Mondavi on their first day in the Napa Valley!
In 1983 the family pooled their resources and purchased 15 acres in Carneros. Today they own nearly 115 acres of producing commercial vineyards in both the Napa and Sonoma regions of the Carneros. Ceja Vineyards was founded in 1999. Education, passion, motivation, determination and hard work have all been the key components to the success of the Cejas.
This very spacious tasting room has a cozy wine salon/lounge feel with the stools at the wine bar, a couch, seats and other small tables. Unique wine, cheese and other pairings are sometimes offered. Extended hours on Friday and Saturday evenings make this a lively spot. Another neat aspect of this tasting room is their Artist Series program. Works of art are featured in this location by up and coming artists.
Words you may see on Ceja’s informational literature are “Vinum, cantus, amor – translation, Wine, Song and Love! You may also see their other motto, “Wine+Food+Family+Friends =Fiesta”! The Ceja’s will tell you that “wine is in our veins, not blood”! You can’t help but be caught up in the enthusiasm and passion that this family has for their winemaking. Its infectious.
All their wines are very reasonably priced by Napa standards. Additionally, Ceja keeps their wines lower in alcohol than many wineries; all the wines we tasted were under 14% with many in the high 12’s to low 13’s. They make a wide variety of wines; five wines are poured for their set tasting fee. Unless otherwise noted, their wines are 100% varietal.
The Sonoma Coast 2006 Sauvignon Blanc is a crisp wine with great tropical pineapple guava aromas in the nose and flavors on the front palate – with a slight mineral touch on the finish. Their Vino de Casa is a real find. It is a an extremely unusual blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah. When winemaker Armando Ceja was in college one of his professors told him that its impossible to blend these two varietals. Never say impossible. This wine is a testament that these two varietals actually can mesh quite well. The softness of the Pinot Noir is felt on the front palate and the Syrah brings a slight pepper flavor to the mid palate and certainly rounds out this wine with a long finish. Out of 650+ Napa wineries visited with to date, this is the only winery we know of blending these two varietals together.
Their 2004 Merlot is an interesting wine. Pleasing raspberry aromas show on the nose with a noticeable flavor of dried apricots on the palate. Their 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon is a juicy wine that will pair very favorably with a medium rare steak. Think Argentinean grown and prepared steak and you have a match! The last wine we tried was their 2004 Sonoma Coast Syrah which is a cool weather grown Syrah that exhibits aromas of white pepper aromas fruit and leather on the palate.
Also ask about their “Ceja Pesos”. At qualifying restaurants if you order or bring a bottle of wine you can contact Ceja directly for discounts on future wine purchases – inquire regarding the specific details of this. The Ceja Vineyards tasting room and grounds in the Carneros region is open by appointment only. The family is currently building a winery facility there – which will allow them to ramp up production and ultimately make all their wine within Napa.
Their total production is around 10,000 cases which will grow once their new winery opens. They currently sell the majority of their grapes at their Carneros estate to other wineries. The restaurant Bistro Sabor is owned by the Ceja’s and is located one block away East of the tasting room. This is a lively place to be especially on a Saturday evening with free Salsa lessons. Dalia’s brother Ariel is rumored to be one of the best Salsa dancers in the valley. In town on a Saturday? Come on by for some dancing!
Ceja is one of the few wineries in Napa to make sparkling wines. They currently make a Blanc de Noir and a Sparkling Brut.
The Ceja’s are currently planning to open another tasting room in the city of Sonoma – about 20 minutes from their Carneros Estate. We will stay updated about this and post any latest news regarding this here. Visit: www.cejavineyards.com
NOTE: This review has been archived.
REASON: Their tasting room in downtown Napa is closed. They have a tasting room in downtown Sonoma (neighboring county).