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A young organization uniting two major North Bay wine regions, the Napa/Sonoma Mexican-American Vintners Association has a lot on its plate.

Not only is it beginning to flex its marketing and political muscles, the new “alianza” has charged itself with inspiring youth and supporting those just getting into the wine business.

The group put on its public face last weekend at its second annual fundraiser held at member Ceja Vineyards in the Carneros district. The event honored students enrolling in industry-related and other college programs as well as politicians who’ve helped the Mexican-American wine industry with favorable legislation and endeavors.

Saturday’s “Alianzas” brought together the dozen members and several hundred friends for an afternoon of food, wine, silent auction and entertainment that ran the gamut of mariachi band to samba dancers.

The organization’s “mission,” said Justicia Wines’ Rafael Rios, “is to promote Napa and Sonoma wines produced by Mexican-American vintners, to advocate quality standards for its members, to promote and support the contributions of Mexican-Americans in the wine industry and to support education in Napa and Sonoma counties.”

Rios pointed out that “the foundation of the wine industry was built by Latino farmworkers.”

“We have shared experiences and similar backgrounds,” Rios pointed out during brief ceremonies that recognized the contributions of Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena; Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis; and Napa Mayor Jill Techel.

“The good that you’re doing is so important to the people you represent,” Thompson told those assembled in the Ceja family’s garden setting. “Mexican-Americans are so important our area and our wine industry.”

Thompson lauded NSMAVA for promoting education and for providing student scholarships.

“Everyone has an opportunity to live your dream,” Thompson continued. “California is a state of dreamers ... we dream big in California. What we do today in California the rest of the country is going to do tomorrow.”

Four students received $1,000 checks from the organization. They included:

• St. Helena High School graduate Guillermo Hernandez, who plans on attending both Napa Valley College and UC Davis to study viticulture and enology;

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• Napa High School graduate Eduardo Rivera, who plans on attending UC Davis;

• Napa High graduate Maria Inez Vivanco, who plans on a career in psychology working with children.

• Not present was Sonoma County’s Alejandra Quiroz, who plans to attend Santa Rosa Junior College.

Members of the Napa/Sonoma Mexican-American Vintners Association include Alex Sotelo Cellars, Ceja Vineyards, Delgadillo Cellars, Encanto Vineyards, Justicia Wines, Maldonado Vineyards, Marita’s Vineyard, Mi Sueño Winery, Renteria Wines, Robledo Family Winery, Voces Wines and Volcan Cellars.

A spokesman for the organization said Saturday’s Alianzas celebration raised more that $30,000.

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