As the first full-capacity New York Wine Experience in three years, the 2022 event was buzzing with excitement from start to finish—not just over the inclusion of a strong European contingent unable to attend since 2019, but over the resurgence of New York City itself, including its vibrant restaurant scene.
The Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards have honored the world’s best restaurant wine programs since 1981. Today the awards represent more than 3,000 restaurants around the globe, but there are fewer than 100 recipients of the program’s highest honor, the Grand Award. At the 41st anniversary Wine Experience, the two newest Grand Award winners were recognized.
To earn a Grand Award, a restaurant’s team must show an uncompromising devotion to the quality of their wine program and deliver wine service at the highest level. A Grand Award list typically features 1,000 or more wines, which include a breadth of top producers, depth in mature vintages, a range of large-format bottles and selections fine-tuned and updated to harmonize with the menu as it changes seasonally.
Overall, the restaurant industry has been going beyond the fundamentals of excellence in recent years. “For restaurants, 2022 was all about inclusion,” said Restaurant Awards director Cassia Schifter, elaborating on current dining trends. “[From] including more female and minority winemakers on their lists [to] more natural, biodynamic wines and non-alcoholic options. Restaurants are not only welcoming any and all … [they’re] also finding creative ways to keep them in their seats and coming back for more. Now, more than ever, dining has moved beyond just food and beverage. Our two new Grand Award winners exemplify that complete dining experience.”
Chef Gabriel Kreuther’s namesake restaurant in New York is an homage to his Alsatian roots. Wine director Aukai Bell oversees a list of more than 2,000 selections with an array of Alsatian gems alongside classics from Burgundy, Italy, California and beyond. “Add to that impeccable service and an incredibly knowledgeable group of sommeliers and it becomes obvious why they are so deserving of this award,” said Schifter.
“I would like to say, on behalf of the entire team, thank you very much,” said Bell. “It’s an honor to receive the highest of awards from Wine Spectator.”
Press, in the Napa Valley town of St. Helena, has evolved into a culinary destination under the ownership of Samantha Rudd, who took over for her late father, Leslie Rudd, in 2018. She hired chef Philip Tessier and wine director Vincent Morrow, who doubled the wine list to 2,500 selections, almost exclusively from Napa Valley.
Accepting the award, Morrow was in an inclusive spirit. “The [Grand Award] goes beyond the restaurant. It goes beyond the Rudd family, and it’s really in honor of Leslie, who had the vision and the foresight to put Napa Valley on a pedestal—the food, the ingredients, the wine, but most of all the people that live and work in Napa Valley,” Morrow said. “It’s an acknowledgment of the community.”