Belen Ceja, founder of Heirs of My Dream Winery and winemaker for Sonoma County's Aldina Vineyards, is a winner of North Bay Business Journal's 2018 Latino Business Leadership Awards.
Tell us your story and that of your organization: Studied enology and viticulture at Fresno State. Currently, run our family winery, Heirs of My Dream Winery; a custom-crush facility, event center and soon-to-be wine collective in Sonoma Valley. I’m the director of wine production and winemaking, also the winemaker for Aldina Vineyards.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?
Growing our family custom-crush facility to double its size, reaching production capacity.
Aldina Vineyards is launching a new website and entering the marketplace.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?
Starting the Heirs of My Dream Winery custom-crush facility from the ground up.
What is your biggest challenge today?
Finding people that want to work in the cellar industry with experience. Willing to do the tasks that are not so glamorous in winemaking and the cellar world.
As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
The wine industry in entirety as its obstacles. There are many great wineries and brands in the Valley. Finding our niche in our services we provide is what we focus on at our facility daily.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?
Continue to grow in all directions with Aldina including making new varietals. Heirs- continue growing the brand and custom crush facility. As long as there is a market for wine we want to be a company that helps our customers produce it.
Who was your most important mentor?
Mentor and father Armando Ceja: business owner, vineyard manager, winemaker.
My dad never pushed me into the wine industry in all reality he tried to persuade me out of it. As we work together in building our business together the support is endless, the advice is taken for what it’s worth and the hours are endless.
My worth ethic, drive and the dream are a big part of me thanks to him.
What advice would you give to a young person today?
There is no finish line, take your time try new things, take the risks, find different passions.
Most admired business person outside your organization: The H code Media team. Leading the Latin publication for U.S, Hispanics. This company went from three employees, my husband included, to 50 employees all around the world. They are living the startup dream.
Words that best describe you: Determined. Thankful. Driven.
Current reading: Nothing, it’s harvest.
Stress relievers: Balu our human dog
Favorite hobbies: Traveling to Playa Del Carmen as often as possible.
Aldina Vineyards, Santa Rosa
Heirs of My Dream Winery, Sonoma