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A Woman in Wine: Inspira Features Entrepreneur Amelia Ceja

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Role models are a vital need in life, especially for children trying to find their own identity. As Latinos we tend to seek role models with a similar background. We believe, "If they can do it, we can too." That's why I believe it's critical for us to identify Latino leaders and provide an image of possibilities and success. And on Mother's day, there isn't a better leader to highlight, than someone who has always been there for us, our Mother.

In March of 2012 my team at iNDIGO PROjECT MEDIA and I dedicated ourselves to find those role models and celebrate their achievements through our webseries INSPIRA. Inspira is hosted by Emanuel Pleitez and Gabriela Fresquez, and together they are on a mission to discover inspiring Latino leaders across America. We want to showcase the stories of leaders in every field, from the arts to politics, big business to non-profit and innovation to engineering. Most importantly, we want to showcase how these leaders balance a successful career with their family life. And balance is what Mothers do best.

For our recent webisode, we featured a hardworking Mother and entrepreneur, Amelia Moran Ceja of Ceja Vineyards. Amelia's daughter, Dalia Ceja, defines her mother as "A woman of movement. A woman of passion. A woman with big dreams that's made them all happen." Amelia's dreams started with her role models, her parents. Like many Latinos, Amelia's parents migrated to the United States to have better opportunities for their family. They started working in the fields of Napa Valley where Amelia, at just twelve years old, spent most of her time picking grapes. It was in the fields where she met her husband, Pedro Ceja, who fondly remembers Amelia eating more than she harvested. Together they learned about the wine industry from the ground up.

In 1999, Amelia, Pedro and his brother, Armando Ceja founded their own winery, Ceja Vineyards in the Carneros region of Napa Valley. Amelia was named President of the Vineyard, which made her the first Latina Woman Vintner in California. All while raising three children. The Ceja family paved the way not only for Latinos but also for many minority families in the wine industry. The wine industry was in for a big surprise when the Cejas launched their brand.

After reviewing the 2000 consensus, stating that there were about 40 million Latinos in America, Amelia told her mentor she was going to invite the Latino community to enjoy wine with their favorite food. Why can't we have Cabernet with Rice and Beans or chips and salsa? Amelia says, "There's always room at the table for wine, as long as the wine is balanced." The wine has to have a perfect acidity level to break through the spice component. Her mentor looked at her like she was crazy. He told her that the Latino community doesn't have the discretionary income for a luxury product. Amelia replied diplomatically, "If you don't want them, I'll take those 40 million."

Now that her children are older, they have entered the family business, by their own choice. Amelia is very adamant on letting her children follow their own dreams, "To me, it's so important that they love what they do. They'll be successful regardless of anything." Amelia had the same upbringing remembering that she always had unconditional love and trust from her parents to do what she wanted to do. She believes that it has to be the first thing you teach your children, because then they learn to be independent and can trust to make their own choices.

Dalia, head of Marketing and Sales for Ceja Vineyards, confirms her mother's sentiments. "My parents did a great job at raising us to always be humble and give back as much as possible. Life is too short not to. We all have to take care of ourselves and others."

For more information on Inspira and to watch Amelia's webisode visit InspiraAmerica.org.

Feliz dia de las Madres!

INSPIRA is a web series hosted by Emanuel Pleitez and Gabriela Fresquez who are on a search to discover inspiring Latino leaders across America.

INSPIRA is important in today's time to spotlight role models that can help inspire young Latinos to follow their passion and create a positive impact in their society. From the arts to politics, big business to non-profits, our viewers will be able to follow Emanuel and Gabriela as they immerse themselves into each leader's life, learn more about what they do, and hear about the people and experiences that inspire them to be the person they are today.