Historic San Antonio Winery Founding Family Shares Holiday Food and Wine Traditions

Time-honored traditions passed down from generation to generation are a big part of what makes holidays special. No matter what country, culture or language spoken, some of the most memorable holiday moments happen around the dinner table.

This is especially true of the Riboli family, which has been sharing cherished food and wine traditions with patrons of their historic, family-owned-and-operated San Antonio Winery for more than 90 years.  Many of the recipes and traditions go back to the earliest childhood memories of Grandmother Maddalena and Grandfather Stefano Riboli in Italy.

Pairing wines to complement the various food selections is an Italian art form. Thus, it’s not surprising that wine is a key component of Riboli family celebrations.

According to Mike Riboli, a member of San Antonio Winery‘s four-generation, founding-family management team, their family holiday menus may vary but the general wine-pairing principles are fairly consistent and can be easily adapted to any celebration – no matter what country-of-origin or type of food being served.

As with most Italian families, Riboli gatherings start with a pre-dinner “aperitivo” – a time to socialize, relax, nibble and enjoy a drink to “open the palate.”  Stella Rosa Imperiale Prosecco – a crisp, light and fruity semi sweet wine from Treviso in the northeastern province of Veneto, Italy – is a typical aperitivo beverage for the Ribolis, who enjoy it with such cold appetizers as Italian soft cheeses drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, marinated mushrooms, sweet and sour onions, bruschetta and meats like salami, prosciutto and sausages.

The first course of the meal usually consists of pasta, risotto or soup. The Ribolis particularly like traditional meat or spinach ravioli served with wines such as Maddalena Pinot Grigio and San Simeon Pinot Noir, both from the winery’s estate vineyards in Monterey, Calif.

Second course, the main event, typically is meat, poultry, game or fish.  “This year we will have lamb and porchetta (pork roast),” Riboli said. “We also serve frittata, a quiche-like specialty, with the main course at most celebrations. This tradition goes back to Nonna Maddalena’s childhood in Piedmont, Italy.”

Several Italian wines from San Antonio Winery’s Stella Rosa line are well-suited for the main course. “Brachetto D’Acqui DOCG is a light red, semi-sweet, very aromatic, full sparkling wine from the Piedmont region of Italy that goes great with a beef and pork. It’s very refreshing and light,” Riboli added.  “Imperiale Moscato Rose, also from the Piedmont region, is another nice complement to the main course,” he continued, describing it as a semi-sweet, white wine with light effervescence, salmon pink color and a nice floral aroma. “It’s delicious with zucchini and pork.”

“Last, but certainly not least, is dessert.  We really like tiramisu paired with Brachetto, which is great with chocolate.”  Another Riboli family favorite dessert is traditional cannoli paired with Imperiale Orange Moscato, a unique, semi-sweet, sparkling wine from the Veneto, Italy region.

The Stella Rosa lineup is part of the semi-sweet category, the fastest growing category in the U.S., led by the Moscato grape.  Stella Rosa Rosso, a red wine derived from Brachetto grapes grown in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy, was introduced approximately eight years ago.  The Stella Rosa brand has since expanded to include two levels: the first and original, every-day, semi-sparkling wines; and the highest-quality, fully sparkling Imperiale labels.

About San Antonio Winery

The historical San Antonio Winery has been the heart of winemaking and wine culture in Los Angeles since 1917. The last of more than 100 wineries that once spread throughout Los Angeles, this fully functioning, state-of-the-art winery continues to handcraft wines from Northern Italian vineyards as well as estate vineyards in Napa Valley, Monterey, Paso Robles and many other viticultural areas throughout California.  San Antonio also is among the last wineries owned and operated for four generations by its founding family.

Today, the San Antonio Winery produces countless award-winning wines.  In addition, the recently renovated Los Angeles site boasts a comprehensive fine wine store, the gourmet Maddalena Cucina restaurant, a gift boutique and group rooms ideal for all occasions. The landmark is widely considered one of Los Angeles’ most unique venues and a large part of the city’s cultural fabric.

During the holiday season, operating hours for Maddalena Restaurant in San Antonio Winery’s Los Angeles location will be 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Christmas Eve (Dec. 24); closed Christmas Day (Dec. 25); and 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Dec. 26 -31. The wine shop and bistro will be open 9 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. New Year’s Day (Jan. 1, 2012). The restaurant also will be open Mon., Jan. 2, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Winery tours are limited and schedules subject to change during the holidays so it is advisable to call ahead (323-223-1401) to check tour availabilities.

San Antonio Winery collections also are sold at its Ontario and Paso Robles Wine and Gift Stores.  Contact the shops directly for holiday operating hours – Ontario: (909) 947-3995; Paso Robles: (805) 226-2600.

Learn more about the San Antonio Winery and Stella Rosa Wines at http://www.sanantoniowinery.com/ and http://stellarosawines.com.