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Santo Stefano Winery

Central Coast AVA

Enjoy this hard-to-find beauty from one of California's pioneering wine families

In many ways winemaking, and in fact the individual wines themselves, is a product of relationships between people. Many of California’s greatest wines would never have reached fruition without a healthy dose of personal association between either individuals or families and in many cases, generous quantities of both. Such is the case with this month’s Platinum selection from Santo Stefano Winery.

To fully explore our opening paragraph, it is necessary to revisit the captivating story of the Riboli Family of Southern California, whose story is now well known to veteran Platinum Series members. In 1917, the Riboli Family patriarch Santo Cambiancia emigrated from his native Lombardy Region in Italy and founded the San Antonio Winery. The winery prospered and in 1930, Santo’s Nephew Stefano Riboli joined the winery and managed to help his uncle through the tough times of the post-prohibition wine era.

San Antonio continued its successful habits and continued to grow and become of the area’s most successful operations, conducting a myriad of wine operations and a most successful restaurant on the winery property located in downtown Los Angeles.

Santo has remained active in the family’s business and today, while just shy of his 80th birthday, continues to put in an active amount of time and continues to have an active voice in the affairs of the business. Stefano Riboli is also active in the family’s business, which is run by his son Santo who serves as its President.

Some time ago, a family decision was made to honor the two individuals who played the greatest roles in the development and furthering of the family’s dominant wine business. It was agreed that a wine be produced that honored both Santo Cambiancia and Stefano Riboli and also bore their founders’ name. Everyone in the family agreed the wine should be as excellent as humanly possible to give proper respect to the beloved founders. Once again, as plans for the new wine progressed, a decision was made to source the fruit for the new wine from the best sources known to the family; sources with deep personal relationships to the family that has been hewn out and perpetuated over many generations.

Everyone concerned with the project agreed that that the commemorative wine should be a Cabernet Sauvignon, since most wine lovers consider Cabernet Sauvignon the predominant California varietal and that the resulting wine would have the greatest possible potential bottle life. A well-made Cabernet Sauvignon from the right vineyards that could age gracefully in the bottle would be the perfect tribute to the two wine pioneers who made the family business what it is today.

The Riboli Family then went to the source of its favorite Cabernet Sauvignon, the Alexander Valley region in Sonoma. Long term family friendships with two top growing Alexander Valley families, the Demosthene and Saini Families, produced the finest fruit available for the classic wine. These vineyards have been farmed by the same families for generations and are bounded by the likes of Silver Oak and Jordan, whose wines have reached the pinnacle of acclaim. Needless to say, the entire project received a warm reception from the growers and Santo Stefano Cabernet Sauvignon became a reality.

Senior Winemaker, David Vergari oversaw the production of the Santo Stefano Cabernet Sauvignon and chose Seguin-Moreau and Demptos American oak (30% virgin) to convey the special fruit flavors of the Alexander Valley. The fruit from each vineyard was fermented individually to preserve the unique terrior of the specific vineyard and then aged for twenty-four months. The fruit is a product of the respected 1998 vintage that followed the formidable 1997 vintage but which is considered as much more accessible and softer than its heartier predecessor.

It is altogether appropriate that so many incredible factors came together to produce this classic wine that celebrates the achievements of one of California’s foremost pioneering wine families. It is also fitting that the wine is a product of long time relationships involving several wine families. Such relationships are the basis of today’s California wine industry. It is a wine that was truly meant to be. Enjoy!