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Press Release

Grape Picker to Vineyard Owner: The Success Story of Amelia Ceja & Ceja Vineyards

April 6, 2017

(Albuquerque, NM) Mark your calendars for Monday, April 17. The Student Center for the Public Trust (SCPT) is hosting Amelia Ceja of Ceja Vineyards at 5:30 pm in the Education Building, room 1004. Amelia is a dynamic speaker who will share her journey from Mexico to the Napa Valley and the success story of Ceja Vineyards.

Amelia CejaAmelia immigrated to the United States from Jalisco, Mexico in 1967 when she was 12 years old to pick grapes alongside her father, a worker in the vineyards of California. She told her father on the first weekend they worked together that someday she would own a vineyard of her own.

True to her word, Amelia went on to found Ceja Vineyards in 1999 with her husband, Pedro, and Armando and Martha Ceja. They dedicated the winery to not only making premium wines, but to sustainable farming to protect both farmworkers and the environment. Today, Ceja is an ultra-premium winery and one of the few Latino owned wineries in California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Amelia was the first Mexican American woman ever elected President of a winery.

Amelia says she had three obstacles to overcome in building her business; being an immigrant, a Latina and a woman, but she saw them as advantages.

"Labels and stereotypes don’t matter," says Amelia. "What matters is what you do with your life moving forward." In her many speaking engagements she encourages others to "do something bigger than yourself."

She passed along that determination to her daughter Dalia Ceja, who in 2009 joined the family business as Marketing and Sales Director. The vineyard uses technology and social media to expand its presence, but its approach to wine and food is what really makes it stand out in the industry.

The winery is one of the first to target the Latino community in its marketing efforts. When Ceja first opened, the common thought was that Mexican food only went with beer and margaritas. Amelia set out to change that misperception by creating a series of YouTube cooking videos showing that Mexican food and wine go quite well together. The Harvard Business School took notice and in 2011 published the case study, Ceja Vineyards: Marketing to the Hispanic Wine Consumer.

In 2016, Amelia was featured as part of the Cooking Up History program at the Smithsonian Museum where she shared her favorite Mexican Cuisine recipes and the wines that go with them. Her tortilla maker is now part of the museum’s permanent collection. 

Today Ceja Vineyards is a very successful, award-winning winery. It is one of Napa Valley’s leading boutique wineries, producing 8,000 cases annually.

Amelia Ceja’s story has been featured on television and in newspapers and magazines including, NBC News, The Today Show, the Boston Globe, Sunset Magazine, and Univision.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from this first-generation American citizen and  college graduate who uses education, determination, and hard work to sustain the vow she made when she was only 12 years old.

Amelia Ceja’s presentation is free and open to the public, however, RSVPs are required. Attendees can register by emailing Professor John Reed at reedj@unm.edu by Friday, April 14.

The SPCT Student Chapter at UNM provides an interactive environment focusing on developing students’ awareness and understanding of the importance of ethical leadership within organizations.  The chapter provides the opportunity for the UNM community to hear about the challenges of business and provide tools to help us make the right decisions.

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The Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico is dedicated to excellence in professional management education. At the Anderson School, faculty, staff, and students are committed to shaping the intellect and character of the next generation of business leaders, advancing the knowledge and practice of management, promoting economic development, and building a vibrant intellectual community that serves the highest and best interests of all our stakeholders.

The School was founded in 1947 and now offers more than a dozen concentrations at the BBA and MBA levels and is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business in the top 20% of business schools in the nation. The School is funded by the State of New Mexico and further support is generated by The Anderson School of Management Foundation. For more information, the public can visit www.mgt.unm.edu, email info@mgt.unm.edu, or call (505) 277-6471.

PHOTOS, INTERVIEWS, AND FURTHER INFORMATION AVAILABLE ON REQUEST