10 Earth-Friendly Wine Destinations

Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners serving up food, wine and sustainable practices

10 Earth-Friendly Wine Destinations
Grand Award winner Blue Hill at Stone Barns has been a pioneer of sustainable restaurant practices. (Ingrid Hofstra)
Dec 19, 2019

At these restaurants around the United States, providing a premier wine program is just as important as minimizing our negative impact on the planet. From on-site farms to waste-fighting initiatives to hyper-local cuisine and everything in between, sustainability is far more than a buzzword at these spots, so you can feel good about enjoying a meal and their Restaurant Award–winning wine lists. For a more in-depth look at restaurants’ eco-friendly efforts, read our recent news coverage.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s nearly 3,800 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 100 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!


Blue Hill at Stone Barns

630 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, N.Y.
Telephone (914) 366-9600
Website www.bluehillfarm.com
Open Dinner, Wednesday to Sunday
Grand Award

Diners at Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Evan Sung
At Blue Hill at Stone Barns, chef Dan Barber serves refined takes on regional cuisine.

Sustainability has been the core mission of Blue Hill at Stone Barns since it opened at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in 2004. The not-for-profit education center and the restaurant work together to better connect people with the land through various forms of research, classes and resources. Rather than printing a traditional menu, chef Dan Barber presents a multicourse experience based on what's available from the expansive, cutting-edge farm. Blue Hill is also home to a Grand Award–winning wine program overseen by wine director William Carroll, comprising more than 2,100 selections with numerous strengths: Burgundy, California, the Rhône, Bordeaux, Italy, Champagne, the Loire, Germany, Austria and Madeira.


Posana

1 Biltmore Ave., Asheville, N.C.
Telephone (828) 505-3969
Website www.posanarestaurant.com
Open Dinner, Tuesday to Sunday
Best of Award of Excellence

Posana dining room
Posana
Posana is located in the heart of downtown Asheville, N.C.

Posana holds a three-star certification from the Green Restaurant Association, a nonprofit that helps restaurants become more environmentally responsible and awards ratings based on areas such as water efficiency, sustainable food and energy. Chef and co-owner Peter Pollay has long relied on local farmers for the regional American cuisine and utilized composting to divert waste from landfills. Wine director Adam Oxford applies those values to the 500-selection list, seeking organic, sustainable and biodynamic wines. And while you’ll find big-name benchmarks, including in the strongest sections of France, California and Italy, the program leans toward small growers and lower-production labels. “We like the sweet spot of, like, 200 to 800 cases a year, nothing like 40,000 cases,” Pollay told Wine Spectator, noting that they strive to make personal connections with the wineries. “You just have a better connection of where everything's coming from." The space itself is environmentally friendly as well, with hardwood flooring repurposed from an old barn, LED lights, solar panels on the roof and water filtered on site.


Riverpark

450 E. 29th St., New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 729-9790
Website www.riverparknyc.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Riverpark’s urban farm
Crafted Hospitality
Riverpark relies on its urban farm, a rare feature for a Manhattan restaurant.

Chef Tom Colicchio’s Riverpark pairs global wines with hyper-local food. The 600-wine list, overseen by wine director Dusan Vranic, draws from a vast range of regions. Though it’s strongest in France, California, Italy and Germany, the program represents countries such as Greece, Albania, Austria and more. Unifying the diverse picks is their harmony with the seasonal menu by chef Andrew Smith. But there’s another key player when it comes to the cuisine: farm manager Jonathan Sumner, who runs the on-site urban farm just steps from the kitchen. Sumner and Smith work together on a daily basis to source specialty ingredients like fairy tale eggplant, shishito peppers and herbs at their peak. The operation cuts down on delivery truck emissions and reduces waste, since Sumner only grows what’s needed for the restaurant. For additional ingredients, Riverpark also partners with nearby purveyors including the 3-acre Farm Tournaut in Montgomery, N.Y.


Beast + Bottle

719 E. 17th Ave., Denver, Colo.
Telephone (303) 623-3223
Website www.beastandbottle.com
Open Dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

Root vegetable salad at Beast + Bottle
Adam Larkey
Beast + Bottle’s seasonally changing menu may include plates like root vegetable salad.

Relationships with local farmers and ranchers are a hallmark of the operation at Beast + Bottle, supplying 90 percent of the ingredients for chef Paul Reilly’s American cuisine. Though the name implies a meat-centric menu, it’s more about a whole-product approach of respecting each component and reducing waste. In fact, the offerings are increasingly vegetable-forward. The restaurant also composts and recycles, and swapped disposable straws for metal ones in the summer of 2018. Compostable containers sourced locally are used to package food to go, held in paper bags—never plastic. Though wine director JP Taylor Jr.’s 90-label list is very international, excelling in Italy and France, there’s at least one local option for nearly every type of spirit on site, and an almost-exclusively local beer list.


Beechwood Inn

220 Beechwood Drive, Clayton, Ga.
Telephone (706) 782-5485
Website www.beechwoodinn.ws
Open Dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

Pan-seared wild salmon at Beechwood Inn
Beechwood Inn
Locally sourced cuisine is one of many eco-friendly practices at Beechwood Inn.

Since they opened Beechwood Inn in 2000, owners Gayle and David Darugh have been committed to minimizing their negative impact on the environment. The bed-and-breakfast features electric-vehicle charging stations, partnerships with organizations like Clean World Foundation and the Sierra Club, energy-efficient appliances, an extensive recycling program, tankless water heaters that operate on an as-needed basis and much more. For the Mediterranean cuisine, they grow much of their produce themselves, sourcing the rest as locally as possible. California shines on the 280-selection wine list, which focuses on small producers and features a selection of labels made on site from Georgia-grown grapes.


Frontera Grill / Topolobampo

445 N. Clark St., Chicago, Ill.
Telephone (312) 661-1434
Website www.rickbayless.com
Open Lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday
Award of Excellence

Frontera Grill dining room
Emilia Czader Photography
The team behind Frontera Grill and Topolobampo has its own farm-supporting foundation.

At Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, chef Rick Bayless’ longstanding Chicago restaurants, the Mexican cuisine is crafted using seasonal, sustainably raised produce and animal products from local small and mid-size family farms. Some ingredients come from a rooftop garden, and from Bayless’ garden in his own backyard. Composting and recycling programs divert 95 percent of the restaurants’ waste from landfills, including converting used cooking oil into biofuel. There’s a philanthropic piece as well: the Frontera Farmer Foundation, which has awarded nearly $3 million in capital development grants to about 200 family farms in the Midwest, according to a media director. The Award of Excellence–winning wine list of 250 labels built by wine director Jill Gubesch excels in France, California and Mexico.


Local Roots

1314 Grandin Road S.W., Roanoke, Va.
Telephone (540) 206-2610
Website www.localrootsrestaurant.com
Open Lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Sunday
Award of Excellence

Local Roots dining room
Local Roots
Local Roots is a low-key, Earth-conscious concept.

At Local Roots, chef Matthew Lintz’s cuisine and wine director Brian Sallade’s beverage program both revolve around a central philosophy the team refers to as “SOLE: Sustainable, Organic, Local, Ethical.” Sallade prioritizes small wineries with responsible production practices on his 95-selection wine list. California and France are among the program’s top strengths, as is Virginia, covering wineries around the state. Lintz uses produce, meat, dairy, fish and seafood from partnering farms, which are listed on the restaurant’s website, along with naming eco-friendly organizations for guests seeking resources or ways to get involved. The regional American menu changes frequently based on what’s seasonal and available from those purveyors, but examples of dishes include heirloom grain salad, gnocchi with roasted mushrooms and parsnip, and dayboat scallops with speckled corn grits.


Restaurant Tyler

100 E. Main St., Starkville, Miss.
Telephone (662) 324-1014
Website www.eatlocalstarkville.com
Open Lunch, daily; dinner, Tuesday to Saturday
Award of Excellence

Restaurant Tyler strives to support community purveyors and avoid waste whenever possible. The team composts hundreds of pounds per week and finds creative ways to repurpose things like corks and empty wine bottles. Wine director Barbara Burgess celebrates producers with sustainable, biodynamic and organic practices of her 145-wine program, providing explanations for each of those terms at the start of the list. California is strongest, alongside solid collections of Oregon and Washington labels. About 85 percent of ingredients are sourced locally, with some of that coming from chef Ty Thames’ 90-acre farm in a small town nearby. They’re then transformed by chef Thames into dishes such as house-made gnocchi with lamb ragù, a duck burger and a catch of the day.


Rioja

1431 Larimer St., Denver, Colo.
Telephone (303) 820-2282
Website www.riojadenver.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

Rioja dining room
Rioja
Rioja is centrally located in Denver, Colo., near several major attractions.

Rioja holds the highest possible, six-link rating from Good Food 100, an annual survey and list recognizing U.S. food-service companies with sustainable buying practices. Chef Gabe Wyman uses those thoughtfully sourced products for menu items such as cauliflower tahini soup, crispy duck confit and four hand-made pasta dishes available either in entrée or appetizer portions. Managed by wine director Shari Schneider, the wine list presents 230 bottlings with highlights in Spain and Italy. More than two dozen selections are available by the glass, with most of those offered in half-glasses as well, and several Sherries. To further fight waste, the restaurant recycles, composts and uses compostable takeout packaging.


Sabio on Main

501 Main St., Pleasanton, Calif.
Telephone (925) 800-3090
Website www.sabiopleasanton.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

Sabio dining room
Sabio on Main
Sabio on Main highlights California on its 95-label wine list.

Sabio on Main’s owner Jim McDonnell and chef-partner Francis Hogan pioneered sustainable practices not just for their own restaurant, but also for their community. When they opened Sabio on Main in 2015 and discovered their city lacked a commercial composting program, they helped create a pilot program and became the first restaurant to compost in Pleasanton, Calif. Hogan’s seasonal California menu offers dishes such as pork belly with pickled Craisins, black cod with black rice and miso broth, and hand-rolled cavatelli with baby artichoke and tomatoes from a small farm the restaurant invested in. Wine director Rosemary Speer’s 90-selection list emphasizes California, especially close-by wineries like Steven Kent and Lineage Wine Company.


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