Paso Robles destination offers wine tasting, bistro, gift shop, and pairings for holiday meals
It’s always a great time to visit Paso Robles and the surrounding areas, but there’s just something about the fall, with its cooler days and the anticipation of the upcoming holiday season, that makes this time of year even more special. And there’s no better destination to visit than the beautiful and conveniently located tasting room at Riboli Family of San Antonio Winery.
Family-owned, with three generations currently overseeing the everyday operations, it’s one of the most highly awarded wineries in California. And the Paso Robles tasting room? With outdoor patio seating, an indoor bistro, and the best gift shop around, this is the place to be! The décor is stunning, timeless, and elegant, and yet the ambiance throughout is warm, approachable, and inviting.
“We’ve always specialized in the consumer, and our approach is very comfortable yet educational. We want people to learn,” fourth-generation winemaker Anthony Riboli said. “We want everyone to feel welcomed, and that’s why we offer many styles and types of wines, from a big bold cabernet to a light sparkling semi-sweet wine. Our selection, our ability to cater to anyone and please all of the different palates sets us apart. The bottom line is, we want our guests to feel comfortable and have a great time. That’s our philosophy – it’s been our philosophy for 102 years, and it will continue to be our philosophy.”
Invested in the Paso Robles area for more than three decades, first as a buyer of grapes, community is important to the Riboli Family. Over the years, they have achieved many accomplishments with their vineyards and winery, including attaining a Certified Sustainable status from the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance (CSWA).
“We are all about being good neighbors, using water wisely, and being part of the community; not just the wine community, but Paso Robles in general,” Riboli said. “This is our second home and the longer we’ve been involved in the area, the more we’ve invested not only in resources but our time.”
This sense of community was established by Santo Cambianica when he first started San Antonio Winery in Los Angeles more than 102 years ago. His nephew Stefano Riboli and his bride, Maddalena, later owned the winery and passed on the family work ethic to their three children – Santo, Cathy, Steve. Today, the fourth generation includes Riboli as the winemaker and involvement from several of his cousins.
Stefano recently passed away, and the loss has left a tremendous void.
“He was our family patriarch, and we raise a toast to his 97 years of a great life,” Riboli said. “We all miss him, but we are honored to carry on his incredible legacy.”
The science & art of winemaking
As a winemaker, Riboli puts a lot of heart – and history – into every batch of wine he produces.
“What I’ve always loved about winemaking is the combination of science and art,” he said. “That combination is what got me hooked. Every winemaker has a different approach, just like a painter or sculptor, and I find that to be truly amazing.”
Riboli, a former pre-med student, works alongside winemakers Arnaud Debons and Ben Mayo. The Riboli Family estate vineyards in Paso Robles include Maddalena, Stefano, and Pretty Penny in the El Pomar District AVA, and the Creston Highlands and Riboli Creston vineyards in the Creston District AVA. They also have four vineyard properties in the Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia Highlands AVAs of Monterey and the Rutherford appellation of Napa Valley.
“What I like most about having our own vineyards is learning about the individual vineyards each year,” he said. “I am able to have a better experiential factor to the winemaking, which I do believe is important. The longer we work with these vineyards, the more we are able to know them and that’s really exciting.”
Holiday wine pairing
With the holiday season quickly approaching, Riboli shared some tips on pairing his family wines with a variety of popular food items.
“My go-to wine is our San Simeon Pinot Noir. Whether served with turkey, ham, prime rib, or salmon, it’s just so versatile,” Riboli said. “For people who want a bigger, bolder red wine with prime rib the San Simeon Cabernet Sauvignon is fantastic. The Opaque Darkness, our red blend, is really nice as well.”
Lighter foods and appetizers pair with the San Simeon Sauvignon Blanc, according to Riboli, so be sure to pick up a few bottles of this bright, refreshing wine.
“Rosé is very popular right now and there’s a lot of flexibility to pair these wines with many different foods,” Riboli said. “Our Maddalena Rosé is a nice blend, and our San Simeon Grenache Rosé is quite popular. Both of these wines go well with shrimp and other appetizers, and lighter entrees including salmon and turkey.”
And let’s not forget about dessert! Riboli recommends the Maddalena Riesling with poached pears.
“And our La Quinta Syrah Port is just fantastic with a flourless chocolate cake,” he said. “The sparkling red, semi-sweet Stella Rosa Rosso Lux, from our Italian import label, is a blend of barbera and brachetto, and just an incredible dessert wine. If your palate likes a sweeter style wine, it also pairs well with turkey, ham, and lighter dishes.”
Visit the Riboli Family of San Antonio Winery tasting room in Paso Robles at 2610 Buena Vista Drive, just off Highway 46 East; open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call (805) 226-2600.