Did you know Los Angeles was once the main wine-producing region in California? The first grapes in the Downtown Los Angeles area were planted in 1833. By 1890, there were vineyards that stretched throughout the majority of the Southern California region, with over 80 wineries in the Los Angeles area. Unfortunately, Prohibition in 1920 wiped out most of these vineyards, since the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol was prohibited.
San Antonio Winery was only three years old when Prohibition began. The founder, Santo Cambianica found a way to adapt to the situation. A loophole in the act allowed the production of sacramental wine. Cambianca, a devout Catholic, was able to stay in business by selling the wine for religious services.
This was a turn of genius and actually established San Antonio Winery as the largest producer of communal wine in the United States. At the time Prohibition began, the winery was producing around 5,000 cases of wine. By the end of Prohibition in 1933, San Antonio Winery was producing over 20,000 cases of wine.
After over 100 years and four generations of winemaking, the San Antonio Winery has expanded with vineyards in the Napa, Paso Robles, and Monterey areas. Sadly they no longer grow in Los Angeles, but they continue to produce wine in the original location on Lamar Street. Guests can visit and taste at this location in Downtown Los Angeles.
The next post will discuss the wines. Stay tuned…