San Antonio Winery is located in downtown Los Angeles. I can’t believe that l never heard of this place in the twenty years l lived in L.A. I most certainly would have visited it along with the wineries in Napa Valley where we headed yearly. I only discovered it while in Houston when we visited with one of our old friends. She opened a bottle of San Antonio Cardinale, one of the their sweet red wine variety. We both liked it a lot. Her brother sends her some bottles often she said. I assumed by the name that the company was in Texas, but lo and behold, she informed us they were actually in L.A. Of course it became a must visit for us!
My friend L. took a day off work and the three of us headed downtown. It was easy to spot as you went down the freeway, you could see the gigantic sign from a distance. Amazing what you see when you really look :-). The place is quite large, and has been open since 1917. They proudly proclaim that they survived the prohibition. How cool it must have been to be in L.A in those days. It remains the last winery in downtown Los Angeles by the way.
San Antonio Winery offers free wine tasting of up to 3 wines. I was pleasantly surprised! If you want to taste more, you pay l believe up to $15, which l totally understand, otherwise you would get freeloading bums ;-) . We didn’t pay anything because we loved every single generous amount of wine that we tasted, save for one and purchased them all. We had a lovely man serving us, and he told us little tidbits about the various wines. He made sure to pay attention to everyone despite the fact that it was quite busy. When a tour bus pulled up and it got really crowded, we left our stash with him and went on the free tour. Living in Spain, we have really come to love wine, especially red wine. As part of our exploring our own backyard, we have big plans of checking out wineries like Jerez de la Frontera (closest to us) and Ribera del Duero wine tasting (close to Madrid so not too far) among others.
Tom, our tour guide was a very pleasant, knowledgeable and enthusiastic man. I was eager to learn all about their wine production. It has been years since l visited a winery, and some of the little knowledge l had have evaporated. Among the things we learned about the San Antonio Winery were:
It started as a two bedroom house in 1917.
It was started by Stefano and Maddalena Riboli, who were Italian immigrants.
It has always been family run, now with the fourth generation. The attached restaurant is named for Maddalena.
The winery produces 67 different wines. Some of the most popular San Antonio winery wines are:
- San Simeon Merlot
- Opaque Malbec
- Santo Stefano Cabernet Sauvignon
- Bodega de San Antoni Sangria
- Chocolate Bar dessert wine
- Stella Rosa Italian Wine
- Santo Stefano Lambrusco
- San Antonio Cardinale wine
- San Antonio Classic Chianti
- San Antonio Villadoro Moscato
When the grapes arrive at the winery, they are fermented. Each gigantic container produces 4344 gallons of wine!
There are 5 aging rooms. San Antonio Red wine takes longer to make as the skin of the grapes used are more bitter because they have lots of tannin. White oak barrels are the standard barrels used to age the wine. The wood eats the tannin, and the longer it stays barreled, the smoother the taste. Red wine therefore takes longer, resulting in a more expensive product at the supermarket :-) . Pinot Noir for instance takes about 10 months to age, whereas a Zinfadel takes about 4 years! That’s why l love that so much l guess, the wine absorbs the flavor of the barrel.
Stabilization is done after aging. This is where they evaporate the yeast and wood and other things that do not belong. This is done over four weeks. Then it’s on to the bottling department. Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) is used to take the air out during bottling. It was all very fascinating, and l enjoyed it a lot. The tour took an hour, and l was never bored.
100 bottles per minute are produced at the San Antonio Winery! They also produce wines for smaller wineries.
San Antonio Winery Restaurant:
After our informative tour, we went to have a look at the restaurant Maddalena. The array of food there was quite extensive. Had we not eaten before leaving the house, we would definitely have eaten there. Next time for sure. They had not just hot home made dishes like lasagna and spaghetti, they also had sandwiches and hot soup, l was totally eyeing the clam chowder :-) . The home made cannoli looked so good, it had me drooling, but my sugar high was already allotted to the wine :-( . They also had home made bread, cookies and other baked goods for sale, not to mention souvenirs, even wine flavored lip gloss (maybe not a good idea for work..you don’t want to be known as a lush ;-) ).
I really enjoyed the hours we spent at the San Antonio Winery. I highly recommend putting it on your list of things to do if you find yourself in LaLaLand! The wine selection is awesome, the staff quite nice and welcoming, free tasting, great restaurant. Another awesome thing? Free parking! Yep..free parking!!! The only thing l would suggest is that you might want to go there during the day only. It’s sort of a dodgy area (mostly homeless drunks), quite safe and harmless during the day but l can’t vouch for the night as l have not experienced it.
San Antonio Winery Opening Hours:
737 Lamar Street
Los Angeles, CA 90031
Sunday – Thursday: 9am to 7pm
Friday and Saturday: 9am to 8pm
Where to buy San Antonio Winery Los Angeles wine?
In addition to the store inside the winery and at their other 2 locations in Ontario and Paso Robles, you can also conveniently purchase San Antonio wine online.
Some grocery stores such as Trader Joe’s and HEB sometimes stock the wine.
Are you a big fan of wine? Or are you more of a beer person? Does the San Antonio Winery sound like someplace you would like to visit, or have you already been there?