The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2015

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december 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  81 Barbera d'Asti—low alcohol and slightly fizzy, these wines have also proven to have great appeal for "international" consumers from places like the Philippines, Africa and Asia. Riboli believes the wines also appeal to "the wine geek crowd because of how it's produced, with great acidity and fresh flavor profiles." There are nine flavors total, plus five from the Imperiale sparkling line, including an award-winning Prosecco. On the off-premise the brands have enjoyed huge successes, given a $13.99 SRP. "The on-premise is the challenge," admits Riboli. "It's been difficult to get F&B directors to understand that consumers buying craft beer in the $7–9 price point are the same consum- ers buying Stella Rosa." Riboli says they've come to realize that most F&B directors are concerned about open- ing a full bottle of Stella Rosa and not pouring through it. To address that, in 2016 they are introducing single-serve size packages in an "innovative aluminum bottle, providing unique packaging for all wine drinkers to enjoy on the go," explains Riboli. The wines—Stella Rosa Black and Stella Rosa Platinum— will come in a 24-carton pack and retail individually at $4.99–5.99. San Antonio Winery is also expanding its wine- making facilities into Paso Robles; we'll have the scoop on that in an upcoming issue. For now, visit sanan- for more information. an Italian born in Lombardy, came to work for the Southern Pacific Railroad. And the Lincoln Heights neighborhood was the booming Little Italy, which has since evolved to Chinatown. He saw there were a lot of Italians and many brought their history of drinking dry wine with meals, but around this time, California was producing sweet wines—Muscatel and fortified wines." Riboli explained that there were over 100 wineries in Los Angeles then, and the one Cambianica started was on Lamar Street, a main thoroughfare for workers heading to a major trolley stop. "People dropped off a glass jug in the morning and picked it up on the way home," says Riboli. Cambianica was able to remain open during Prohibition because he made sacramental wine for the L.A. archdiocese. "He never changed from that devout, principled character," says Riboli. "After Repeal, about ten wineries were left and he grew the winery." Riboli's grandfather, Stefano, came to Los Angeles from Italy at the age of 16 to help run the winery. Stefano eventually married Anthony's grandmother, Maddalena, and both have worked in the winery since. They are 94 and 93, respectively, and Stefano still comes to the winery just about every day. Riboli attributes a lot of the winery's success to the smarts of his grandmother, who sought to diversify the company's interests. "We were one of the first tasting rooms in California, and the first to sell DTC [direct to consumer]." When, in the 1960s the city forced the winery to move its crushing operations out of the city limits, his grandmother was quick to turn the empty space into the restaurant that is currently in operation today. Until recently, and aside from some vineyard holdings in Monterey since the early 1980s, the winery had always purchased grapes and the focus was on production and retail. During the 1970s, San Antonio Winery could boast ten tasting rooms around Los Angeles. But with chang- ing laws and the increase in supermarket chains selling wines, they had to change their model. "In the 60s and 70s, as varietal wines were being pushed in Napa Valley," Riboli explains, "my dad, Santo (named after my great-uncle) recognized that people wanted to see grape names on the label." They began sourcing grapes from Napa and Sonoma, which gave them the idea to purchase vineyards themselves. Currently, the winery owns estate vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands and Arroyo Seco AVAs in Monterey County, and also the El Pomar district of Paso Robles. They also own the Riboli Family Vineyard in Rutherford. For a long time, the family hired winemaking consultants, but then Anthony decided to attend U.C. Davis's Viticulture and Enology master's program. "The program at Davis really woke me up to the practices that we needed to change to improve our quality," he says. Stella Rosa, which has brought huge successes to the win- ery, was created 13 years ago for the tasting room and turned into a surprise success. "We wanted to fill a void in the wine industry with an easy-to-drink semi-sweet, semi-sparkling wine," says Steve Riboli. "We created a wine perfect for the new wine consumer, and they responded." According to the IRI, a market research company, Stella Rosa is "the #1 Imported Italian 750-ml. brand by dollar sales in the U.S." as well as "the #2 imported" brand overall, by dollar sales. Steve Riboli, third-generation vintner, explains that Stella Rosa is "a serious product made in a light, efferves- cent style." The wines are produced at a facility in Italy's Piemonte region, in a village called San Stefano Belbo. The wines are kept as must in pressurized tanks for around 14 months and can be bottled as needed. Non-vintage-dated, once bottled, they are best consumed within three years. The first Stella Rosa was a Moscato d'Asti, followed by Stella Rosa Rosso, a blend of Brachetto d'Aqcui and Anthony Riboli, fourth-generation wine- maker, believes his family's story is the true story of the immigrant dream. The Original San Antonio Winery is in the same location as today on Lamar Street.

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