Without context, Anthony Riboli's birth announcement seems unconventional: Born May 9, 1974. Weight: 8 pounds, 2 ounces. Length: slightly shorter than two Burgundy bottles. But how else could you announce a son whose family's Los Angeles winemaking roots trace back to 1917?
Riboli is winemaker at San Antonio Winery, which for 88 years has been producing Pinot Grigio and Petite Sirah alongside the Los Angeles River. He works with his parents and grandparents in what remains very much a family operation.
What's it like being the youngest in four generations of winemakers? Well, Riboli has some advantages. He's the first in his family to study viticulture formally, earning a master's degree at the University of California, Davis. Still, he says, "Sometimes it was a lot of faith on their part, saying, 'Hey, we think the kid knows what he's doing.' "
San Antonio has changed over the years. Wines used to be made from local grapes; today they come from as far away as Paso Robles, Monterey, and Napa. But Riboli maintains the business isn't all that different. "You get one shot a year," he says. "You can do everything right, but ultimately, if Mother Nature creates a huge rainstorm right in the middle of the harvest, what are you going to do?"
At the end of the day, the joys remain the same. "Wine is not about scores and rankings and impressing people," he says. "Wine is a reward and a pleasure."
Info: San Antonio Winery (tastings $7.95; 737 Lamar St., L.A.; 323/223-1401)