Most people don’t associate the city of Los Angeles with the craft of winemaking. However, Los Angeles was actually the nexus for Southern California winemaking in the mid 1800s. French winemaker Jean-Louis Vignes brought Bordeaux vines to downtown Los Angeles in 1833, and created a winery. The craft gained in popularity and stretched south and east to Orange and Riverside counties. Vignes is often regarded as the founder of California’s wine industry, and was rewarded by an eponymous street in Los Angeles.
Vignes paved the way for an Italian immigrant named Santo Cambianica. In 1917, Cambianica opened the San Antonio Winery on Lamar Street in Los Angeles. San Antonio Winery was one of the few wineries to stay open during prohibition, granted special permission by the Los Angeles Archdiocese to produce wine for religious purposes. Even the Great Depression could not shutter San Antonio Winery. Santo’s nephew Stefano became an apprentice in the business, and took over the winery after the death of his uncle. Stefano and his wife branched out in the following years, and impressed by the quality of Northern California grapes, purchased vineyards in Monterey and Napa.
Today, San Antonio Winery is the only operational winery in Los Angeles. Even though their vineyards may be concentrated outside of Los Angeles, the winery still remains on Lamar Street, close to what is now Dodger Stadium. The winery houses Maddalena Restaurant, featuring elegant Italian and American dishes to complement their array of delicious wines. They also host private events, wine and cheese pairings and winemaker’s dinners. San Antonio Winery produces under more than 15 different labels which are also available directly on the website.