DTLA is developing at rapid speed, attracting both locals and visitors alike to check out the newest restaurants, bars, clubs, lounges, coffee shops, and mix of retailers. But with so many new businesses popping up all over DTLA, it’s important to remember that there are also businesses that have been a part of this community for decades. And they are just as worth checking out as the new places in town! This brings me to share a historic hidden gem in the heart of DTLA: The San Antonio Winery. Founded over 99 years ago in 1917, The San Antonio Winery is the last winery standing in Downtown and has become a landmark here in the city. In fact, in the early 1960’s it was officially declared by the city as a Historic-Cultural Monument and remains #42 on the list.
According to www.SanAntonioWinery.com, in the early 1900’s Santo Cambianica immigrated to Los Angeles all the way from northern Italy. He was a devout Catholic, known as hardworking among his community, and after saving money for a few years, in 1917 he founded the San Antonio Winery in the heart of DTLA, dedicating it to his Patron Saint Anthony. During prohibition in America, almost all of the Los Angeles wineries were closed. San Antonio Winery was able to remain open through the prohibition period, though, because of Cambianica’s relationship to the Catholic Church. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles allowed San Antonio Winery to continue producing wine for religious purposes, including sacraments and ceremonies. This helped shape San Antonio Winery’s ability to be so successful. Today, four generations have kept the winery not only still standing, but still flourishing, in the heart of urban DTLA.
San Antonio Winery produces wine from grapes grown in their vineyard properties in a variety of locations, including Monterey County, Napa Valley, Paso Robles – the most popular vineyard regions in California. San Antonio Winery’s website: “As in every step of the winemaking process, we have paid special attention to the cultivation of our vineyards and are confident you’ll taste the fruits of this passion in the complexity of our wines. “
Step right up and enjoy a taste – San Antonio Winery offers wine tasting to its visitors at a long, standing tasting bar. When you wine taste at San Antonio Winery, you’ll be able to choose from (all award winning) refreshing whites, bold reds, Champagnes, sweet, and semi-sweet wines – depending on what you’re in the mood for. This winery offers something for everyone’s wine preference and taste, and you’ll be able to choose from two different options for your tasting:
1) Daily Tasting: You will get to sample 4 tastes from their weekly selection of wines. Cost: $5 for 4 wine tastings. Definitely a good deal.
2) Artisan Tasting: You will get to savor 4 highly limited, specialty wines from the Riboli Family’s estate. This is a better option if you want to try wines of higher quality and taste. With an increase in quality also comes an increase in price, so the Artisan Tasting will cost you $15 for 4 wine tastings.
Before or after you taste some of the wines produced at San Antonio Winery, you can take a FREE guided, walking tour of this large urban winery. During your tour, you will learn about the rich history of the winery and the complex and fascinating process of how their wines are prepared. This experience will allow you to get a true behind the scenes view of the winery’s daily operations and the efforts that go into producing their award-winning wines.
Tours are always complimentary and are offered from Monday – Friday at 12:00pm-4:00pm on the hour and on Saturday – Sunday at 11:00am-5:00pm on the hour. No reservation is needed unless your group has 8 people or more, and you can make reservations online here if you plan on venturing here with a larger group. Pro tip: Make sure you wear comfortable shoes because you will be doing quite a bit of standing, and bring a sweater because it was slightly chilly in the warehouse.
In case you’re hungry after tasting wine and going on the complimentary winery tour, San Antonio Winery offers two dining options: The Maddalena Restaurant and The Bistro. Focusing on gourmet American and Italian food, this cafeteria-style restaurant serves a variety of salads, pasta, fish, meat, sandwiches and desserts. It’s open daily for lunch and dinner, and also serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. If you’re feeling hungry but aren’t in the mood for a sit-down meal, grab a snack from The Bistro – you’ll be able to choose from an assortment of olives, crackers, cheese, meats, and a few dessert options. Happy hour is offered here on weekdays only from 3:00pm-6:00pm and the deal includes $1 off beer and wine and $7 appetizers.
If you happen to love any of the wines you tasted and want to take home a bottle or two, don’t forget to browse the massive wine store on your way out. Here, San Antonio Winery sells a large variety of wines, from regions both locally and globally, and also sells a selection of quality craft beers, spirits, and gifts. The store attendees will be happy to help you make the right purchase, whether it’s indulging on a treat for yourself or buying a gift for someone special in your life.
Encompassing a rich almost 100-year-old history, an informative and fun tour, and a variety of delicious wines to taste, San Antonio Winery is a true hidden gem in DTLA that I’d recommend visiting if you get the opportunity. San Antonio Winery is located at 737 Lamar Street, Los Angeles, CA 90031. There’s a large, free parking lot at the winery but if this is full when you visit, there is metered parking along the streets nearby. The winery is open Sunday-Thursday from 9am to 7pm and Friday and Saturday from 9am to 8pm. For any questions, call 323-223-1401 or visit the San Antonio Winery Website by clicking here.
Time and time again, I read articles about the value in trying new things in life. Whether it’s learning a new skill, trying out a new hobby, visiting a new place, etc. – these new opportunities allow us to learn more about the complexities and fascinations of the world. Something I love most about Los Angeles is that there is always an opportunity to learn, discover, or experience something NEW here. I’m pretty sure it would take hundreds of years to experience all of the adventures that Los Angeles has to offer. To that end – I’m glad I was able to have a new experience while exploring DTLA’s last standing, urban winery. To follow along with me trying new more things in DTLA and beyond, connect with me on Instagram @jorda_b or check out my blog “New Girl’s” Guide to L.A.