Patriarch & American Wine Legend, Stefano Riboli Passes at 97

With heavy hearts we are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Riboli, Stefano Giuseppe–a founding member of the historic San Antonio Winery in downtown Los Angeles, CA. A pioneer of the American wine industry, Riboli, Stefano Giuseppe passed away peacefully surrounded by four generations of the family on July 3rd, 2019 at the tender age of 97. Having made his “American Dream” into a reality with his uncle Santo Cambianica, his wife Maddalena, children and grandchildren, Riboli, Stefano Giuseppe made his mark in the industry helping establish Los Angeles’ first urban winery. Originally serving the Italian immigrants within the community, the San Antonio Winery brand has become a national success. Having charm and a very sharp business acumen, Riboli, Stefano Giuseppe always had an acute ear for what his customers wanted and is known for being the driving force behind the family and winery’s standout brand Stella Rosa, which is the #1 selling imported Italian wine in the U.S. after noticing a wide range of patrons were looking for a sweeter wine to quench their palates.

Born in Los Angeles on September 8th, 1921 Riboli, Stefano Giuseppe lived in the states until he was three years old when his parents moved the family back to Italy. Having grown up a shepherd boy herding “Alpina” brown cows in Italy, he was known to be a lover of animals and nature big and small.

At 16 years of age Riboli, Stefano Giuseppe was given the opportunity to purse the “American Dream,” and moved back to Los Angeles to help his uncle Santo Cambianica work at San Antonio Winery. At the time the small winery was the center of the Italian community and he was nurtured by his uncle Santo to help take over the business as he had no children of his own to pass the winery down to.

After World War II, Riboli, Stefano Giuseppe met his wife Maddalena on her family’s farm in Chino, CA. It was love at first sight and they married in 1946. The two settled down and raised a family a few blocks away from the winery and throughout their 73 years together they raised three children (all of whom work at the winery). The unstoppable pair have been the driving force behind the winery’s success, and he & and his wife, Maddalena, had the pleasure of seeing the winery and fruits of their labor with the family become Wine Enthusiast’s 2018 “American Winery of the Year.”

Riboli, Stefano Giuseppe was fondly referred to as “Papa Steve,” and always welcomed everyone with a smiling face and a glass of wine and an amazing recollection of names, history, and a colorful story about his early days in Italy and the winery. His unmatched wit, preciseness, generosity, and charm instantly drew everyone to him. His warmth and kindness kept them coming back.

For decades, longtime patrons visited the winery just to see him. He loved spending every day at the place he called home, while making it feel like home for his loyal customers and his new ones; he always made time for everyone.

A dedicated family man, Stefano is survived by his three children: Santo (Joan), Cathy (Nino), and Steve (Sindee), who run the winery today. He leaves behind many grandchildren: Anthony, Steve, Lisa, Michael, Jennifer, David, Dante, Blake, Christopher, and Alex. And he is also survived by seven great-grandchildren.

Stefano left an indelible mark on his family and his community that will never be forgotten. His legacy will live on forever in everyone’s hearts and in the soul of the winery and the city he loved. As Stefano would always say, “Sempre Avanti”, just keep moving forward no matter what challenges life brings you.

Link to photos of Riboli, Stefano Giuseppe:

For additional information about Riboli, Stefano Giuseppe’s life and legacy at San Antonio Winery and greater American wine industry, please contact kate@klgpr.comfor the full obituary.