Fiona Ma for State Assembly

Environmental and Economic Equalizer Award Honors First Generation Mexican-American Family-Owned Winery and Brewery

Sacramento – California State Board of Equalization (BOE) Member Fiona Ma, CPA presented the third annual Environmental and Economic Equalizer Award to Ceja Vineyards and Carneros Brewing Company during today’s opening ceremony of California Ag Day at the State Capitol. Ceja vineyards is a family-owned winery founded in 1999 by Amelia, Pedro, Armando, and Martha Ceja – first generation Mexican-American vintners in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys.

Each year, Board Member Ma searches throughout her BOE district to find an agricultural business practicing environmental stewardship to honor forward-thinking entrepreneurs. 

“The power of the California dream helped the Ceja family become successful business owners, contributing to California’s standing as the fourth largest producer of wine and sixth largest economy in the world. Their dedication and hard work proves that we can save the environment while contributing to California’s thriving economy,” said Board Member Ma.

Ceja was one of the first Mexican-American owned wineries in California. The family settled their roots in Corners-Napa with 15 acres in 1983, planting their first vineyard in Corners-Napa in 1986. The initial harvest in 1988 was dedicated to growing Pinot Noir grapes. Today, 115 acres are farmed, including 125 established olive trees.

“We're honored and humbled to receive the Ag Day Award presented by Board Member Ma. We have been dedicated to sustainable farming practices and best business practices for over three decades in the grape growing industry. We have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for the predominantly migrant workforce - the Compassions. Farm workers are and will always be the true artisans of the wine industry,” said Dalia Ceja, Director of Marketing and Sales.

The Ceja family’s eco-friendly agriculture features include:

  • Water is recycled from the winery back into the vineyards in Sonoma Valley, and a drip irrigation system is utilized throughout the estate vineyards;
  • Cover crops are used to bring nutrients to the soils and to provide a habitat where beneficial insects thrive while damaging insects are eliminated;
  • All paper/glass products in tasting rooms and the production facility are made from recycled products;
  • Organic fertilizers and pest controls are the main arsenal against pests;
  • Solar panels are being installed throughout entire production facility.

The family also founded the Carneros Brewing Company in 2013, a microbrewery operated by four Ceja brothers and their families. Here, the focus is on water and energy conservation and sustainable hop growing and brewing practices. The brewery is in the process of building a unique water treatment plant and a two-stage recyclable water heating system, while a high-efficiency fluorescent lighting system is already in place. For further sustainability, the spent grain and brewing solids are used by local farmers for cattle and hog feed.   

The BOE offers a number of resources to assist the agriculture industry – online industry guides, information on green technologypublications, and in-person seminars to name a few. Agriculture businesses are encouraged to review these helpful tips and perhaps someday, the Environmental and Economic Equalizer Award may be sitting on your shelf!