After numerous journeys along I-5, often en route to Paso Robles or Napa, the sight of the San Antonio Winery on the west side of I-5 in Los Angeles consistently piqued our curiosity.
Finally, a few weeks ago, we enjoyed an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour guided by Riboli Family Wines’ Audrey Lewis and Adrian Rubio.
San Antonio Winery, nestled in the heart of Los Angeles, boasts a remarkable legacy spanning over a century in the world of winemaking. Despite the transformation of the Los Angeles River and the disappearance of vineyards to accommodate urban development, this historic establishment continues to flourish in its original Lamar Street location.
The estate stands as a cherished relic of the city’s rich winemaking heritage, earning its designation as Cultural Monument Number 42 by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Board in the early 1960s.
The story of California’s wine tradition traces back to the Franciscan Fathers of the Spanish Missions and the pioneering efforts of French winemaker Jean-Louis Vignes, who planted European vines in Downtown Los Angeles in 1833, setting the stage for California’s wine industry.
Santo Cambianica, a hardworking Italian immigrant, founded San Antonio Winery in 1917, dedicating it to his Patron Saint Anthony. Even amidst the challenges of Prohibition and the Great Depression, the winery persevered, thanks to its unique role as a provider of sacramental and ceremonial wines for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Over the years, the winery expanded its reach, with Stefano Riboli taking the helm in the post-World War II era and steering it towards a path of continued success.
Today, the San Antonio Winery remains a multi-generational family business with vineyards in Paso Robles, Monterey, and Napa Valley, proudly upholding its tradition of producing award-winning wines while honoring its deep-rooted family values and commitment to the land.
The day was filled with highlights. My favorite moment was capturing a picture with third-generation Riboli family siblings, Santo and Cathy, along with Cathy’s daughter Jennifer, showcasing the love and respect within this family.
Despite Stefano’s passing in mid-2019, his 100-year-old wife, Maddalena Riboli, continues to offer guidance to the family business. Between the third and fourth generations, there are currently nine members of the Riboli family working in some capacity at the winery.
San Antonio Winery has undergone significant expansions, evolving from its humble origins as Santo Cambianica’s family winery and house, to encompass multiple event spaces perfect for weddings, corporate events, and parties, storage tank rooms, bottling facility for all U.S. Riboli wines and brands, wine shop, gift shops, the Maddalena Restaurant, the 1917 Wine Bar & Bistro and more.
Riboli Family Wines offers a diverse range of estate and import brands, including premium Riboli Family Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from their Rutherford 16-acre vineyard and various brands sourced from their 12 vineyards located in Paso Robles and Monterey.
These include San Simeon, my favorite Riboli brand, along with Maddalena, Opaque, Highlands 41, Windstream, and the newly added Jada Vineyard and Winery. Additional labels comprise San Antonio Specialty, Riva De La Rosa, and Stella Rosa wines sourced from Piedmont, Italy. In addition, Riboli Family has added an entire division dedicated to importing fine wines from around the global including France, Spain, and New Zealand.
Visiting San Antonio Winery is incomplete without dining at the Maddalena Restaurant, where the Maddalena lasagna and a pairing of Opaque Malbec made for a delightful lunch. Other tempting options were the lobster ravioli and stir fry entrée.
The cafeteria-style eatery, beloved by both locals and Riboli workers, offers live music during lunch Thursday-Sunday. The outdoor 1917 Wine Bar & Bistro, with extended weekend hours and brunch options, provides another charming dining experience on the premises with live music.
For wine lovers who are history buffs, I highly recommend a trip or two to explore the historic San Antonio Winery, its restaurant, 1917 bistro, wine shop, and gift shop. Thank you, Audrey and Adrian, for a top-notch behind-the-scenes tour of your winery! Get more information at sanantoniowinery.com.
— Story by Rico Cassoni
West End Bar & Kitchen hosts Rombauer Wine Dinners at 6 p.m. on Sept. 28 & Sept. 29. Guests will experience an evening with wines from Napa Valley’s Rombauer Winery. Owner Sal Ercolano and Chef Noe have expertly paired the five-course dinner with Rombauer wines. The main course features Garlic Tri Tip and Rosemary Grilled Wagu paired with 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon. Cost is $95 per person + tax/gratuity. RSVP at 858-259-5878.
Rico Cassoni is the executive producer for Taste of Wine and Food. Founder/advisor Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator. Frank and Rico are two of the leading reviewers on the web. View their columns at tasteofwineandfood.com. Reach them at [email protected].