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Known For Stella Rosa, Riboli Family Accentuates California Portfolio

This year has been characterized by a series of unwelcome challenges for wineries due to the ongoing pandemic and recent California wildfires, but Los Angeles-based Riboli Family Wines tells SND it has seen a number of bright spots in recent months, chief among them the debut of an entirely new wine division—Riboli Estates Group—focused on its California portfolio.

Riboli Family is best known for its Stella Rosa brand from Italy, the third-largest imported wine label in the U.S. and an Impact “Hot Brand” that soared by 20% to 2.5 million cases last year. Stella Rosa has continued to surge in 2020, with dollar sales up 91% in IRI channels in the year-to-date period ending October 4. But winemaker Anthony Riboli sees plenty of growth potential in the company’s California holdings as well. “Our history is as a California winery—we’ve been in business for over 102 years,” says Riboli. “We want to make sure each of our California estate wines has a clear identity, and gets the same level of attention as Stella Rosa.”

Riboli Estates Group currently includes six brands: San Simeon, Maddalena, Opaque, Riboli Family Vineyard, Windstream, and Highlands 41. Highlands 41 is the newest member of the group, and aims to leverage the rising popularity of Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon. “For Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles is such an ideal place, and that $13-$15 price segment is generating so much buzz; it’s the exact right combination of price point and quality,” says Riboli. Highlands 41 launched with Cabernet Sauvignon and Black Granite, a red blend that’s also from Paso. The brand will extend early next year with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sourced from estate vineyards in Monterey County.

Elsewhere in the Estates Group, San Simeon is a more upscale label, sourced from the best lots in the company’s vineyards across California. It’s led by Monterey Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, though a Paso Robles Sauvignon Blanc has also proven popular. The brand has grown in recent years thanks to Riboli’s extensive replanting efforts. “As our other properties come into production, we’re able to pick the best lots from those, and that’s allowed us to grow but maintain quality,” Riboli notes. San Simeon has made a successful shift from restaurant to retail, especially in California markets, he adds. Recent releases from San Simeon include Chardonnay Monterey Estate Reserve 2017 ($25, 7,000 cases made), Pinot Noir Monterey Estate Reserve 2018 ($30, 3,000 cases made) and Merlot Paso Robles Estate Reserve 2017 ($30, 750 cases made). All three received 90-point scores from Wine Spectator.

As the Riboli family homes in on its California portfolio, educating consumers about the uniqueness of regions like Paso Robles and Monterey will be key. “We have to be apostles who are spreading the virtues of these regions better than ever before, because they’re simply not so known by many consumers,” says Riboli. “We’re looking to create consumer understanding, and educate them about the value these regions provide.”—Julia Higgins

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