We had been wanting to drop in on the San Antonio Winery for years, and just about a year ago, we joined some of our wine-making buddies on a special tour of the place and fell in love.
San Antonio Winery is one of those little treasures in Los Angeles that reminds us this place actually had a history before oil and Hollywood. While the winery, itself, was founded in 1917, it was one of hundreds in the area, most of which failed during the 1920s and Prohibition. San Antonio hung on by making sacramental wine for the local Catholic churches – something it still does even to this day.
When they started, there were actually vineyards in L.A. Now, the winery sources its grapes from all over the state, including Napa, Paso Robles and Monterey and makes wines under a whole bunch of different labels, probably to get past the bad jug wine rep that was the larger part of their business during the bad ol’ days during the middle of the last century.
They haven’t given up on the jug wines – some of which, while sweet, are pretty tasty. But their more upscale (for lack of a better term) offerings are very nice, indeed. And the place is still owned by the family that founded it. Santo Riboli is no longer alive, but his nephew Stefano (aka Steve) Riboli is still around and working with his sons and grandsons. Michael Riboli has been taking the winery to new heights with some pretty impressive marketing and Anthony Riboli works with another winemaker to make th.
The best part for us, though, is that the winery is a hop, skip and a jump from Michael’s place of employment in downtown Los Angeles. We stopped in after work one afternoon and what fun. Stefano was holding court, along with several employees, making sure we got all of his favorites, even apart from the approved tasting menu.
The winery does have a restaurant there, but they’re only open ’til 7 p.m. Lunch is clearly their busy time and the food we had there a year ago was pretty tasty – even if we can’t remember what we ate. Check them out at www.sanantoniowinery.com.