Pairing posole with pinot noir for holidays

November 19, 2011

Last year we participated in Small Business Saturday. We felt it was very successful for Ceja Vineyards and we are excited to participate again this year. We sent an e-mail blast to our fans and promoted it on our social media sites as well as with signage at our Downtown Napa Tasting Salon.

Our clients who have American Express cards can sign up to get a credit that they can spend however they want. We think this is a great promotion that brings attention to small businesses across the country.

Our winery launched in 2001 with just 750 cases, but we’ve been wine growers in Napa since the early 1980s. Both my husband’s family and I started out picking grapes as children when we arrived here from Mexico in the mid ‘60s. Our parents were vineyard workers and we fell in love with nurturing the vineyards from working alongside them.

We’ve also had a lot of changes in the past few years. In 2008, we opened a tasting room in downtown Napa — it was at the height of the recession and people thought we were crazy. But it worked well for us; we renovated the building including an original mural by Maceo Montoya that depicts the history of wine. We created an elegant but exciting atmosphere for enjoying and sampling wine.

I have three children and they’re all tech savvy — we have 130 videos on our YouTube channel where we educate and engage people about food and wine pairings. You can see me, my daughter, and several other members of our team featured in our videos.

A year and a half ago, my son, Ariel Ceja, opened a restaurant, just a block away from our tasting room, called Bistro Sabor where we serve authentic Latin American street food. Many of the recipes are influenced by dishes from my kitchen as well as from my mother’s and my mother-in-law’s. We try to make sure people know that spicy Latin-American food pairs well with wine. To let people know that pozole and Pinot Noir are ideal — suddenly, we are speaking the language of so many more people.

The biggest challenge for the wine industry is that there are thousands of labels, so there is always competition. What differentiates our brand is that we have a very clear message: There’s room at the table for wine regardless of what you like to eat. It’s liquid art. Some people like Diego Rivera, and some people like Van Gogh.

For the holidays we have some special offers, like specially priced 3-packs of our wines, which is an incentive for clients to get wine for themselves and also as gifts. We’re also very fortunate to be members of the Napa Valley Vintners Association. We have a big presence on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, to bring people into our tasting room in downtown Napa. Our expectations are pretty robust, and we’re seeing an increase from last year.

We’re a small company, and we’ve always been very focused on driving sales throughout the year. But because of the business we’re in — wine is a lifestyle product — it’s very important to be even more focused during the holidays. Our high season is October through December and that’s when we sell more than any other time of the year. Wine, food, family, friends: That’s what life revolves around from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Amelia Morán Ceja is founder and owner of Ceja Vineyards in Napa, California.

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