BY 1880S END, LOS ANGELES WAS THE PREMIER APPELLATION FOR GRAPE GROWING AND WINEMAKING IN ALL OF CALIFORNIA
The California wine tradition began with the Franciscan Fathers of the early Spanish Missions. In 1833, French winemaker Jean-Louis Vignes brought the first European vines from his native Bordeaux, where he planted them in Downtown Los Angeles and built a winery. Vignes, the founder of California’s wine industry, eventually had a street in Downtown named after him. The wine industry quickly became one of Southern California’s most economically significant and popular industries. By 1880s end, Los Angeles was the premier appellation for grape growing and winemaking in all of California.
By the early 1890s, vineyards stretched to encompass Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties too, as the area’s temperate Mediterranean climate made it an ideal location for growing fruity, lush, richly-colored grapes. The landscape was prime for Santo Cambianica’s fresh ideas and hard-working philosophy.
SAN ANTONIO WINERY FOUNDERS
In 1910, Santo Cambianica left his home of Berzo San Fermo, located in the northern Italian province of Lombardia. After registering at Ellis Island, he arrived in New York and then traveled across the country to Downtown Los Angeles. He quickly became well known as an honest, hard-working, and deeply devout Catholic, the very same qualities he was known for back home. It took only a few years of saving money, building his relationships, and planting his feet in the Italian-American community to start his own company and live the American Dream. Santo founded the San Antonio Winery in 1917 on Lamar Street, dedicating it to his Patron Saint Anthony.
BY 1933, FOLLOWING THE WALL STREET CRASH AND THE GREAT DEPRESSION, NEARLY ALL OF LOS ANGELES’ 100 WINERIES WERE AFFECTED.
The United States Congress passed the Volstead Act in 1919, which effectively started Prohibition in America and jolted the wine industry. Consequently, the majority of the wineries in and around Los Angeles went through a difficult time; the San Antonio Winery, however, persevered. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles granted Santo permission to make wines for sacramental and ceremonial purposes; his strong relationship with the church saved his winery. By 1933, following the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression, nearly all of Los Angeles’ 100 wineries were affected. However, despite Prohibition, San Antonio Winery was able to flourish, becoming the number one provider of altar wines.
WITH WORLD WAR II ON THE HORIZON, STEFANO’S MOTHER AND FATHER KNEW IT WAS THE APPROPRIATE TIME TO RETURN THEIR SON TO THE US.
In 1936, a young Stefano Riboli returned to the United States from Italy. With World War II on the horizon, Stefano’s mother and father knew it was the appropriate time to return their son to the US where he was born fifteen years earlier. Stefano immediately began apprenticing under his Uncle Santo, learning the countless skills necessary to operate a winery; he proved himself invaluable as a partner to his uncle and to the winery.
When Stefano married Maddalena Satragni in 1946, the winery was already an established institution to California’s wine community. During this time, the industry still existed mainly in the South, but Northern California was making fast strides in, eventually gaining much of the industry by the 1950s. Santo, Stefano, and Maddalena, however, decided to remain with their family in Los Angeles where they had been blessed by good fortune.
Santo Cambianica passed away in 1956 and wished that Stefano continue the business for the next generation. Stefano was granted full ownership of the San Antonio Winery. He and Maddalena had a powerful vision of their future and family.
SAN ANTONIO WINERY REMAINS THE OLDEST PRODUCING WINERY IN LOS ANGELES WITH 101 YEARS OF WINEMAKING.
In the 1950s and 60s, Stefano and Maddalena began to look north for land and grape contracting, realizing that the quality of grapes produced in Northern California were surpassing those grown in Southern California. With the help of their children, they purchased vineyard properties in Monterey County in the 1970s, and in the prestigious Rutherford appellation of Napa Valley in the 1980s. They also started relationships and business partnerships with grape growers throughout the state, many of which still exist today.
Most recently, our family has focused on the Paso Robles region located along California’s Central Coast. We have planted two estate vineyards within the El Pomar AVA. We also own a modern winery facility and a beautiful tasting room.
Paso Robles is an exciting and important area due to the excellent climate and high grape quality.
4 GENERATIONS OF
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
4TH GENERATION WINEMAKER
SPONSORSHIPS & EVENTS
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
Today, the LA River is paved and the vineyards have been replaced with businesses and homes. San Antonio Winery remains the oldest and largest producing winery in Los Angeles with over 100 years of winemaking, making it an essential component of the city’s cultural and historical landscape. In fact, in the early 1960s, Los Angeles’ Cultural Heritage Board designated the winery Cultural Monument Number 42.
Still sitting on its original location on Lamar Street, the winery is the last vestige of the rich winemaking tradition of the greater Los Angeles.
We are blessed today to have four generations of family contributing to our success. Our vineyards are now located in Paso Robles, Monterey, and Napa Valley and we are proud to be one of the most-awarded wineries in California. We invite you to become part of our family by visiting San Antonio Winery!
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