Ceja Vineyards is one of the few Mexican family-owned wineries in the Napa Valley. Pablo Ceja and his family migrated to the Valley in the late 1960s. Pablo and sons Pedro and Armando began purchasing vineyards in the Carneros region in the early 1980s. Today, they have accumulated 113 acres of vineyards across the Napa Valley with most of the acreage in the Carneros. Here in the Carneros, they have a beautiful tasting room, outdoor kitchen, and picnic grounds. The only thing lacking is a winery facility, but they have plans to develop a winery on their Carneros property in the very near future. In the meantime, Ceja does their wine making at another facility. Their case production is 7000 cases per year. The Ceja wines are steadily becoming recognized and the 7000 cases of wine are well in demand.
The wines are all low in alcohol by today’s standards. None of the wines exceed 14% alcohol. Yet the Ceja wines do not lack for full flavors. They are smooth and mellow, almost velvety on the tongue. The Ceja philosophy is to develop wines that accompany food and, in particular, Mexican cuisine.
We visited Ceja on one of the few rainy days in March of this year. The winery is open by appointment only and the tasting fee is $15. We were able to taste four wines. Not all their wines are available for tasting and we were disappointed we could not taste the Sauvignon Blanc or the Merlot. Many of their wines sell out quickly through their popular wine club. All the wines we tasted were very well made. The house white (Vino de Casa) at $19 is the best bargain. It is a unique wine with a blend of 68% Chardonnay, 28% Marsanne, and 4% Viognier. The wine has a short four months in oak barrels. It is quite a delicious and a very easy drinking white wine.
The grounds are beautiful and inviting, even on a rainy day. The landscape is elegant yet simple in design. There is a picnic area and, somewhat out of character for a Mexican-owned winery, a beautiful Bocce Ball court. What a setting for a picnic: a game of Bocce, a glass of Casa de Vino white, and some deli delights.
The winery is hidden in the beautiful back roads of the Carneros region. It is located at the corner of Los Amigos Road and Cutting Wharf Road.
The Good: Wines are made to go with food, the grounds, very informative and inviting staff.
The Bad: $15 tasting fee for a taste of four selected Ceja wines. A choice of four would be better.