Published : Wednesday, January 30, 2019 | 11:51 AM
California’s Riboli family, of the historic San Antonio Winery in downtown Los Angeles, received Wine Enthusiast’s prestigious Wine Star Award for “American Winery of the Year” at the Nobu Eden Roc in Miami Beach Monday. The black-tie gala honors innovators and stalwarts who are shaping the present and future of the wine, spirits and beer industry.
The 102-year-old San Antonio Winery has been a beloved fixture in the Los Angeles community bringing the taste of California and Italy’s finest wines to the greater area and across the country. Known for revolutionizing the wine industry by creating a broad range of wines including the ultra-successful Stella Rosa collection, and San Simeon and Maddalena wines, among others, Riboli Family of San Antonio Winery is a prime example of a thriving family business of four generations. Their ability to adapt and contine to innovate with the times and appeal to an ever-changing demographic of national wine drinkers has made them one of the most successful wineries in the United States.
“My brothers Steve, Santo, and I would like to dedicate this award to our parents. Stefano and Maddalena Riboli, or Nonno and Nonna as we affectionally call them, who are now 97 and 96 years old,” said vice president Cathy Riboli, as she received the award onstage. “From pioneering the tasting room concept to becoming the first winery to open a restaurant in California, our parents have made some amazing strides in the wine industry and continue to inspire us daily with new ideas.”
Testament to the Riboli family’s success is its ability to innovate. Aside from its estate vineyards covering more than 1,000 acres across California’s Central Coast, the family has also built a state-of-the-art, energy-efficient winery in Paso Robles, with an adjacent events center scheduled to open January 2019. “It’s an evolution story,” said Anthony Riboli, a fourth-generation vintner and great-grandnephew of Santo Cambianica. “It’s what my grandparents [Stefano and Maddalena Riboli] taught us: reinventing what you’re doing and never sitting back and saying, ‘It’s good enough.’”
Tradition, expertise and family values have been the core foundation upon which the Riboli family has built its legacy. Their wines are not only held at the highest regard, but with each sip comes a story of perseverance, dedication, and rich history. San Antonio Winery is the last remaining winery in downtown L.A. – a hidden gem and a historical landmark operating in the same community it was founded more than 100 years ago by a young hopeful Italian immigrant named Santo Cambianica.
During the Prohibition era, the L.A. wine industry was forever changed when more than 100 wineries were forced to shut their doors. San Antonio Winery, however, stood the test of time and flourished as the number one producer of altar wines. In 1936 a young Stefano Riboli emigrated to the U.S. from northern Italy and began apprenticing under his uncle Santo, soon proving himself to be invaluable to the winery. Another Italian immigrant by the name of Maddalena Satragni caught his eye one day while she was out riding a tractor east of Los Angeles farming the fields. They married shortly after in 1946. When Santo passed, his wish of the couple inheriting the winery came true, allowing San Antonio Winery to stay within the family and grow beyond its roots as L.A.’s original urban winery. “In the 1980s, being a winery in Los Angeles was not cool,” said Steve Riboli, Anthony’s uncle and a third-generation vintner. “But today, we talk about the word ‘urban,’ and every millennial thinks that’s where it’s at.”
Four generations later, both Stefano and Maddalena, respectively 97 and 95 years old, still play a vital role in the winery’s success. They continue devoting their time to mentor the younger generations of the Riboli family, including their three children Santo, Cathy, and Steve, who together grew up working in the winery and continue to implement the family values and work ethic they learned as children, each with daily responsibilities in administration, sales and hospitality. “This mentality has been the driving force for our fourth generation,” said president Santo Riboli. “My son and winemaker Anthony Riboli, my niece Lisa and my nephews Dante and Chris, are all working hard to make sure our vision continues on to future generations.”
Today, the family’s historic L.A. location, Ontario (east of Los Angeles), and Paso Robles locations continue to attract locals and visitors alike.