The journey as a home winemaker
Bryan and I haven’t always been passionate about wine, as a matter of fact 2 of our dogs were named Cabo and Wabo after Sammy Hagars tequila. We loved a margarita with good tequila. It wasn’t until after we were blessed in meeting the Ceja Family we gained an appreciation for not only the taste of a good wine, but the passion and true artistry that goes into making wine. I clearly remember shortly after Bryan and I arrived at Ceja Family Vineyards to begin working, Pedro Ceja came out and introduced himself. He was as kind and loving then as we know him to be now. It was within a few hours time he offered Bryan and I a glass of wine. We graciously declined and responded we don’t really like wine. Pedro said okay and carried on about his business. Day 2 came around and Pedro once again offered us a glass of wine. We graciously declined once again and stated we really like tequila and don’t care for wine. Pedro responded, you just haven’t had a wine you like yet. We soon realized just how true that statement was. By the end of day 2 Bryan was a fan of the tasty Ceja Chardonnay while I was quite the fan of the crisp and aromatic Ceja Sauvignon Blanc. Bryan and I were both so drawn to Pedro and Amelia and the passion they have for wine and everything that goes into making wine. Their family story about working in the fields together in their childhood years to their families successes today was so inspiring to Bryan and I. Our friendship with the Ceja family continued on after the work of the logo was done. Our family and close friends shared picnics there on the beautiful grounds. Our company GroundWorks had a very memorable event at Ceja Vineyards and feasted on absolutely delicious food prepared by Amelia Ceja and her family – an evening we will never forget, it was so special.
Little did we know, this was the beginning of a new journey for Bryan and I. It wasn’t long after we finished the job for the Ceja family that Bryan received a call from one of our customers asking if we would be interested in 200 mouvedre vines. What on earth would we do with vines? Well it took all of about 30 seconds for Bryan to jump in a tractor and clear the corner area of our front yard so we could plant wine grapes. We had no idea what we were doing. Bryan being the go getter that he is purchased books and spent many evenings reading up on how to grow vines and make wine. Pedro often offered his knowledge and expertise. It finally became time we had no choice but to harvest the grapes that were looking more like raisins although the sugar wasn’t high enough in the grapes to make wine. Bryan reached out to Pedro and he offered for us to harvest the 2nds of their Pinot Noir produce. Bryan, myself, our kids and Bryans sister Deana harvested the 2nds. When we returned home to crush, our friends Mike and Shannon Sides and their 2 boys were there to help. The infamous first crush took place in our garage with a hand crank crusher. It was a total and complete sticky mess but we had a great time. 8 months after the harvest it was time to bottle. The same friends, my mom, dad and our kids were there to help and share in the bottling process. We were so proud of how great we believed the wine to be. The kids were all so excited as they were also given a glass to share in a little toast and sip. It was then the name Serendipity came to fruition. After looking back at the chain of events we just couldn’t think of a better name.
We will forever cherish our first experience and those that were there to experience it with us.
Here we are 11 years later and have grown so much as home winemakers. Over the years Bryan and I along with help from friends and family have made small batches of several award winning varietals. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petit Syrah, Malbec, Syrah, Tempranillo, Malvasia Bianca, Semillion, Sangiovese, Zinfandel port and Cabernet Sauvignon Port. We even made a Plum wine with our friends Keri and Tony Eggiman that took the best non grape wine at the Alameda County Fair. Each harvest and bottling are an excuse to bring people together, laugh, share stories and make some great memories together. This hands on approach with people we love is what we don’t ever want to lose sight of.
Our respect for the Ceja family and their continued friendship is greatly cherished.