Have You Checked Out the San Antonio Winery Lately?
Have you visited the San Antonio Winery lately? Surprisingly being a native, I had never visited the Los Angeles winery that’s been open since 1917. At one time, Los Angeles was a bustling wine growing and making community. But Prohibition changed all that. San Antonio Winery managed to stay open by making sacramental wine for religious purposes. When Prohibition was lifted, many wineries were wiped out. Some restarted up north but San Antonio Winery remained in LA.
It was started by Santo Cambianca when he left his native Italy for America. He would then pass it to his nephew Stefano Riboli. Stefano then married Maddalena and she had the idea to open the restaurant. She also thought to buy vineyards in Northern California. The winery remains in the family to this day and although Stefano and Maddalena are in their 90s now, they are often seen at the winery and restaurant.
San Antonio makes a variety of brands including San Simeon, La Quinta Windstream and the namesake San Antonio wines and sparkling wine (California Champagne).
The winery is open daily for tours and tastings. Tours start on the hour from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. There are three options for tastings including a free tasting of three different selected wines. Or you can opt for the $15 tasting of 4 award-winning wines.
If you were to ask your friends what’s the most popular wine you can buy at your local grocery store? Some might say it’s Stella Rosa which is produced by San Antonio Winery.
Generally you would order at the counter before taking a seat. Your food is then delivered to your table. Since it was a group of us, we got a family style meal.
For lunch, we tried it in a sauce for the shrimp cocktail. The sauce is made with Stella Rosa red wine reduction. It was tasty and there was little urging to finish up the shrimp. We had this paired with the Stella Rosa sparkling wine.
Everyone enjoyed the peach salad with burrata and tomatoes. As you might have guessed, the dressing is made with balsamic and Stella Rosa red wine reduction. The salad is new for spring and I’m sure will be a best seller.
I really liked the kale salad with the thinly sliced golden beets and feta. There were also cubed beets which is perfect for a beets fan. This is another new salad for Spring.
We spotted ravioli being made. I’ve made ravioli before so I was amazed by the sheer amount being made at once.
We had the mushroom ravioli with a simple but delicious tomato basil sauce paired with the San Simeon Pinot Noir. I love pinots and this had the lightness of body to go with the ravioli.
San Antonio has two wine makers on staff including fourth generation Anthony Riboli and also Arnaud Debons who moved to the U.S. after completing a wine making program in his native France. Arnaud described going to San Antonio owned vineyards in Monterey County, Napa and Paso Robles frequently to check on wines.
A lot of the wine we were tasting were Arnaud’s blends. Next we tried some of the eponymous wines including the San Antonio Heritage White with the incoming pastas.
We were eating family style so the huge plate of shrimp scampi linguine was impressive. The white wine went really well with this seafood dish.
The star wine of the lunch is the San Simeon Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a good bet for a wine under $40 and was well paired with the lasagna.
People who have been going to Maddalena Restaurant for decades swear by the lasagna. It is indeed a tall and handsome on your plate. It’s almost too pretty to eat. Nah, dig in and do have it with a glass of wine.
If you still have room, get either the tiramisu or the cannolis. I went full on Italian and had a cannoli while sipping on La Quinta port.
My only wish was the winery stayed open later. It’s located in between Chinatown and Lincoln Heights. When the area gets built up (and I think it will), maybe the restaurant can stay open later. In the meantime, drop by for lunch or even a late lunch.
After lunch I checked out the shop and ran into Papa Steve (founder Stefano Riboli) who told me I made a good choice in selecting the San Simeon Cabernet Sauvignon!