Growing Up Amongst the Vines
"You have to live your dreams and follow your passions," Dalia Ceja told me, on a recent sunny afternoon at her family's vineyard. A student of the EMBA program at Sonoma State University, she is truly living her dreams to the fullest.
Dalia Ceja was attracted to the EMBA program at Sonoma State University because "it offers what I want most - an intense and central focus on business and marketing in relation to the thriving wine industry!" Going through the program is important to Dalia, receiving an MBA "demonstrates your commitment to the business because you've invested the substantial time and energy required to obtain the degree."
Before pursuing her EMBA, she graduated from San Francisco State University in 2008 with her Bachelors in Marketing and Communications. After graduation, her parents urged her to go on a "study abroad" trip for six months. Those six months included sky diving, hiking a live volcano in Argentina and trekking up the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. While traveling, she made sure to visit different wine growing regions to learn as much as she could before returning to Ceja Vineyards to join the family team.
Through this adventure, Dalia decided to launch a blog named The Ole! Report in May of 2011. The blog features everything she loves including fashion, food, travel and of course, wine. Dalia's accomplishments don't stop there.
In 2010 she was chosen to co-host the Napa segment of MSN.com's "Rediscover" web series, and was named "Woman of the Year" in 2011 by the Napa Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for "her entrepreneurial leadership and charitable contributions." She is even going to be featured in a book for the next generation of wine, by Chelsea Prince, which will be coming out this holiday season.
Dalia's love of adventure and passion for life was nurtured at home while growing up at Ceja Vineyards. Her father, Pedro Ceja, built their house in 1984 and established headquarters for the vineyard in 1986. "Ceja Vineyards holds a very special place in my heart," she said as she talked about how she used to chase her brothers through the vineyards. Dalia grew up surrounded by homemade Mexican cuisine, a supportive, loving, family and twenty acres of grapes. All of these ingredients helped her become the woman she is today.
Currently, Dalia is working on "La Tapatia," a wine label for which she has partnered with Naked Wines USA. "The project involves me making my first and very own Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with the help of a woman winemaker named Jacqueline Bahue."
Not surprisingly, Dalia has no intention of slowing down after she graduates from the EMBA program. Her goal is to start a mother-daughter wine brand separate from Ceja Vineyards. Growing up with a strong mother inspired her to go after her dreams. Her mother, Amelia Ceja, is the matriarch of the family and vineyard.
Dalia comes from a long line of such strong women. Her great-grandmother gave the advice, "whatever you do, if you love it and learn everything you can about it, you will be successful--and not dependent on a man." They all seem to be living this advice. In 2005, Dalia's mother, was acknowledged as "Woman of the Year" by the California Legislature, for "breaking the glass ceiling in a very competitive business" and in 2008 was named "Business Woman of the Year" by the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
"Every year seems to be getting better, and this year, so far, has been the best yet." While Dalia loves her childhood home, San Francisco is calling her back. After graduating from the EMBA program, she plans to move back to the city to handle sales and marketing for Ceja Vineyards from there. But like the roots of the grape vines that took hold and grew to perfection in the Ceja soil, Dalia too grew up amongst the vines. "Napa will always be my home." No matter where life takes Dalia, her roots will always be at Ceja Vineyards.