Monday, October 19, 2009

Living the American Dream

While spending a few days in Napa Sonoma, the beautiful wine country of California, my wife and I encountered the Ceja (pronounced SayHa) Vineyards. Ceja Vineyards is an ultra premium Latino family owned winery in Napa Valley. It was founded by Amelia, Pedro, Armando and Martha Ceja, Mexican American immigrants in 1983. This is another American dream, free market, success story like so many others based on hard work and sacrifice. The Ceja family came to America from Mexico in 1953 as migrant farm workers. Armando Ceja, at age seven, went to work in the California fields along side his siblings and parents picking fruit. By the time Armando was age eighteen, he made his first barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon. After graduating from high school, Armando enrolled in the Enology and Viticulture Programs at University of California Davis. For years, Armando was a respected vineyard manager in Napa Sonoma. So much so that in 1983, the Ceja family was able to borrow $400,000 to buy their first 15 acres of grape vineyards and has since grown their acreage to create Ceja Vineyards. No doubt, the Ceja's like so many small business men and women in the United States risked everything to pursue their dream.

But the story does not stop there. The current President of the company is another family member, Amelia Moran Ceja, the first Mexican American woman to be President of a wine production company. Amelia majored in history and literature at the University of California in San Diego. Amelia worked in the wine industry for 8 years and 10 years ago left her job to concentrate all her energies on the family business, Ceja Vineyards. Amelia wears many hats. She is the contact person, a wine saleswoman, in charge of public relations, a compliance specialist, a bookkeeper, a wine delivery person, a grape picker and who ever else she needs to be to insure the success of the company. Under Amelia's leadership, Inc. Magazine selected Ceja Vineyards "Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004 (one of seven) in the January 2005 issue. In addition, Ceja Vineyards was named Best New Winery in 2002 by over 90 of the world's most prestigious wine writers. And, in March, 2005 Amelia Moran Ceja was recognized by the California State Legislature as Woman of the Year.

This success story is both wonderful and represents what is great about an America predicated on Capitalism, free markets, sacrifice and hard work. But for a twist of fate, this could have been the Morabito family story because my grandfather was in the grocery and grape business in Ohio. My grandfather and father imported box cars of grapes from California to Ohio to sell to Italians and others to make wine at a time when table wine was otherwise very expensive. At one point my grandfather sold the store and they were going to move to Napa to do just as the Ceja's have done and found a winery. The sale fell through so it never happened; but it did happen for many Italian immigrant families who originally brought from Italy the wine making skills that were the foundation of the California wine country. Today, many of those Italian names are gone in Napa Sonoma as big companies acquired the vineyards from retiring families. And, what is very interesting is that many of those Italian vineyards have also been acquired by more than 12 Mexican American families to pursue the American Dream.

This is the vision of America that I want to leave my sons and eventual grandchildren. It is an America where anyone can succeed who is willing to work hard and take risks. It is not the America of victims, redistribution of income and Socialism advanced by President Obama and the Democrat Socialists that control Congress. We have to take back our country to make sure that our families inherent an America where profit is not a dirty word and opportunities still exist so that all can pursue the American Dream.

No comments:

Post a Comment