The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2016

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62  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2016 MEET THE WINEMAKER A Sense of SAN ANTONIO WINERY'S WINEMAKER ANTHONY RIBOLI LOOKS TO BOTH THE PAST AND THE FUTURE by Kyle Billings BALANCE O n an otherwise quiet and unremarkable Thursday afternoon, the Maddalena restaurant is bustling with energy. A throng of people creates a chorus of clamor in harmony with the clinking and clanking of glasses and plates, paired with poorly-concealed excitement. The setting is evocative: Sepia pictures adorn the walls, suggesting the passage of time and the commensurate comfort of experience; a Spanish guitar serenades the assembly with lilting melodies from songs by Richard Marx and Eric Clapton. San Antonio Winery's winemaker, Anthony Riboli, explains the attraction of a place with generations of patrons: "Once you're inside, you could be in Tuscany, Provence . . . wherever." "Inside," of course, is San Antonio Winery, an oasis among the steel and concrete in the Lincoln Heights district near Downtown Los Angeles. The successful staying power of the winery and the stewardship of its numerous brands is due in no small part to Anthony Riboli. Scion to the San Antonio Winery dynasty, this Riboli—the fourth generation since its founding in 1917—has the distinction of being the first family winemaker in its illustrious history with a formal viticultural education and training, namely a Master's degree in viticulture from world-renowned U.C. Davis and harvest experience at Napa Valley's Groth Vineyards & Winery. A childhood immersed in wine notwithstanding, an education fostered insight, and since his appointment as winemaker in 1999, Riboli knew change was essential. With the family's blessing, he ushered in sweeping revisions, chief among these being the priority of constant visits to their many vineyards because, as Riboli suggests, "You can't do it remotely." Said vineyards are scattered throughout California, including the Rutherford district in Napa Valley, Monterey and, notably, Paso Robles, where a new winery and hospitality center is currently under construction and due to open next spring. Riboli even travels regularly to Italy to discuss concepts and oversee production behind the family's leviathan Stella Rosa brand. Riboli acknowledges both the successes of the family business and the challenging necessity of appealing to patrons, themselves of varying vintages. To meet such a broad and diverse demand, select winemaking techniques are employed, including discerning applications of French

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