Stefano Riboli, the patriarch of Los Angeles’ San Antonio Winery, passed away at his home on July 3, 2019. He was 97.
Known as “Papa Steve,” Riboli was known locally as the face of the century-old LA institution, which he saw grow from a small neighborhood winery into what was recently named “American Winery of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2018.
Among those closest to him, however, he was known as a devout Catholic and dedicated family man. A parishioner of St. Peter’s Italian Catholic Church near downtown LA, Stefano is survived by his three children: Santo (Joan), Cathy (Nino), and Steve (Sindee), who run the winery today. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
“Stefano left an indelible mark on his family and his community that will never be forgotten,” read an obituary provided by the Riboli family. “His legacy will live on forever in everyone’s hearts and in the soul of the winery and the city he loved.”
Riboli was the nephew of Santo Cambianica, who founded San Antonio Winery in 1917 in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. Riboli was born in LA in 1921 but accompanied his parents back Italy when he was only three years old. He was raised there until the age of 16, when he was asked by Cambianica to return to the U.S. and work at the winery.
“Stefano’s deep faith in God, humanity, and kindness toward all people came from the examples set by his Uncle Santo,” read the obituary.
Stefano married his wife Maddalena Satragni in 1946 and together they had three children. The couple lived to witness the winery’s 100th anniversary in 2017.
“He always welcomed everyone with a smiling face, a glass of wine, and an amazing recollection of names, history, and a colorful story about his early days in Italy and the winery,” Riboli’s family wrote. “His unmatched wit, preciseness, generosity, and charm instantly drew everyone to him. His warmth and kindness kept them coming back.”
The winery’s relationship with the Catholic Church dates back to its earliest years. Through an agreement with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, San Antonio Winery produced sacramental wine for parishes in the Archdiocese and beyond during Prohibition, allowing the new business to prosper during a severely difficult time for wine producers.
Since then, the winery has continued to produce altar wine for Catholic churches. San Antonio is also the maker of the “Cathedral” wine label sold since 2002 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels gift shop.
A Funeral Mass for Riboli will be celebrated at St. Peter’s Italian Catholic Church at 10:30 a.m. Monday, July 22.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Saint Peter’s Italian Catholic Church in memory of Stefano Riboli. Donations can be made at stpeteritalianchurchla.org or for assistance call 323-225-8119.