9 Standout Wine Restaurants in Upstate New York

Discover Restaurant Award–winning spots in Buffalo, Albany, the Finger Lakes region and beyond

9 Standout Wine Restaurants in Upstate New York
The wine list at the Cellar in Corning, N.Y., excels most in picks from France, California and Italy, but the Restaurant Award winner also offers a handful of wines from the Finger Lakes. (Courtesy of the Cellar)
Aug 26, 2021

Manhattan tends to steal the spotlight when it comes to New York dining, but above that small corner of the state lies a world of opportunities for high-quality restaurant experiences. These destinations stand out, thanks to their Wine Spectator Restaurant Award–winning cellars. All of their wine lists feature bottlings produced in the state, but their selections span the globe to complement their various styles of cuisine, from a French tasting menu to a laid-back, family-owned Italian spot. Get to know these nine restaurants nestled across upstate New York, from Buffalo to Albany to the wine-centric Finger Lakes region.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s more than 2,900 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 97 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!

Note: Opening hours and menus are subject to change as the industry continues to adjust to evolving regulations.


Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant

56 W. Chippewa St., Buffalo, N.Y.
Telephone (716) 854-9473
Website www.bacchusbuffalo.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 View from the street of Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant
There are several spaces inside Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant including the main dining room, a private dining room and a courtyard. (Courtesy of Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant)

Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant offers wine lovers a memorable experience in the 1906-built Calumet Building in Buffalo’s West Village Historic District. Chef-owner Brian Mietus is also in charge of the wine list, and his collection of nearly 400 labels has earned the restaurant a Best of Award of Excellence. The program primarily focuses on California, France and Italy, though there are picks from Spain, Oregon and the Finger Lakes as well. Adding to the variety are 20 diverse half-bottles and a handful of large-format selections. With a bottle inventory of more than 3,800, Bacchus provides plenty of opportunities for pairings with dishes like potato skins, eggs benedict with soft-shell crab and pork chili with tortillas.


The Cellar

21 W. Market St., Corning, N.Y.
Telephone (607) 377-5552
Website www.corningwinebar.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Owners Michael and Ellen Lanahan stand together in their restaurant, the Cellar
Michael and Ellen Lanahan are the husband-and-wife owners behind the Cellar. (Courtesy of the Cellar)

New York’s town of Corning is home to the Corning Museum of Glass, several Finger Lakes wineries and the Cellar, a small-plates restaurant that was promoted to Best of Award of Excellence in 2020 after expanding its selection. Wine director Emmett Orr’s 360-label program includes picks from nearby New York vineyards and is strongest in bottles from France, California and Italy. This includes Champagnes from well-known houses, Sonoma Pinot Noirs, Argentine Malbecs and much more, with many regions and styles featured on the robust by-the-glass list. Chef and co-owner Michael Lanahan’s menu is seasonal and focuses on locally sourced ingredients, with dishes such as Brussels sprouts and walnuts, coffee-cured smoked salmon, Wagyu-tallow French fries and chicken confit.


Horizons Restaurant

Woodcliff Hotel and Spa, 199 Woodcliff Drive, Fairport, N.Y.
Telephone (585) 248-4825
Website www.woodcliffhotelspa.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 A table in front of the fireplace at Horizons Restaurant
Cozy up by the fire with the classically focused wine list at Horizons Restaurant. (Courtesy of Horizons Restaurant)

Guests at Woodcliff Hotel and Spa can enjoy a spa day, a round of golf and a Best of Award of Excellence–winning dining experience at Horizons Restaurant. Overseen by wine director Daniel Ambron, the nearly 350-label program spotlights several regions, including California, France, Italy and the Finger Lakes. This includes a flight of New York Rieslings from wineries Forge, Lamoreaux Landing and Ravines. Guests can also sip Paso Robles Cabernet, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Prosecco and more. These bottles join an eclectic, steak-house–style menu of dishes like beef tenderloin, udon noodles, Spanish cod and cobb salad served with a vinaigrette made with New York Riesling.


The Krebs

Krebs 1899, 53 W. Genesee St., Skaneateles, N.Y.
Telephone (315) 685-1800
Website www.thekrebs.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Exterior view of the Krebs
The Krebs serves a modern menu in a historic space in the Finger Lakes region. (Courtesy of the Krebs)

Originally founded in 1899, the Krebs is a historic part of the local community and dining scene in Skaneateles, N.Y., a legacy that owners Adam and Kim Weitsman carry on today. Wine director Michael Lischak’s Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine program supports the property’s longstanding success, featuring 1,500 selections focused on Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, the Rhône, California, New York and Germany. A vast Champagne selection follows the Krebs’ diverse by-the-glass list, anchored by a vertical of Möet & Chandon’s Dom Pérignon. Well-known names continue with German whites from Joh. Jos. Prüm and H. Dönnhoff, and Dauvissat-Camus within the massive Burgundy collection. Chef Walter Dunphy complements the wine options with a menu of locally influenced French dishes like gazpacho, tuna tartar and Long Island duck breast, as well as several steaks and pastas.


Saint Urban

124 Dell St., Syracuse, N.Y.
Telephone (315) 243-8509
Website www.sainturbanwinebar.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 A spread of dishes and wines at Saint Urban
The chef at Saint Urban leans into French techniques while also drawing inspiration from Italy. (Courtesy of Saint Urban)

After spending five vintages in France’s Burgundy region, it’s no surprise that chef-owner Jared Stafford-Hill celebrates French cuisine at Saint Urban. He offers a wine list to match, one that’s earned the Syracuse restaurant a Best of Award of Excellence for its 675 selections. Among the featured labels, wines from Burgundy, Champagne and Italy shine, with many additional picks from the Rhône Valley, Germany, Austria, Spain, Washington and beyond. Guests can enjoy these alongside Stafford-Hill’s prix-fixe tasting menu of dishes like Colorado lamb with eggplant and chanterelles, Maine cod bouillabaisse and single-origin chocolate with figs, honey and lavender.


Italian Prime at Salvatore's

6461 Transit Road, Buffalo, N.Y.
Telephone (716) 683-7990
Website www.salvatores.net
Best of Award of Excellence

 A table for four set with wine glasses at Italian Prime at Salvatore’s
Italian Prime at Salvatore’s has been a Buffalo institution for decades. (David A. Candlena)

The Salvatore family has been serving up hospitality experiences in Buffalo, N.Y., since 1938. Now in its fourth generation of family ownership, Salvatore Hospitality owns two hotels and a catering business. Adjacent to the group's Delavan Hotel and Spa is Italian Prime at Salvatore's, a Best of Award of Excellence winner that's been open for more than 50 years. Chef Adam Drabek's menu is a mix of classic steak-house and Italian dishes; expect plates like shrimp cocktail and sliced prime rib alongside rigatoni with bolognese and chicken Milanese. Italian wines appropriately shine on the 535-wine list, but California and France are highlights too. Take advantage of the dozens of bottles under $50, or go with higher-end options from producers like Heitz, Emidio Pepe and Château Lynch Bages.


The Heights Restaurant and H Bar

903 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, N.Y.
Telephone (607) 257-4144
Website www.theheightsithaca.com
Award of Excellence

 An outdoor dining area at the Heights Restaurant and H Bar
There’s a lush, partly shaded area for outdoor dining at the Heights Restaurant and H Bar. (Courtesy of the Heights Restaurant and H Bar)

The Heights Restaurant and H Bar sits just outside of Cornell University's campus in Ithaca, N.Y. It's been open since 1995 and has held an Award of Excellence since 1999 for its decades-long commitment to wine service. Founding couple James and Heidi Larounis still run the restaurant, and James manages the wine program of over 300 labels. The collection pulls from regions around the world; primarily California and France, but also Spain, Argentina, Italy, New Zealand and more. It's a passion project for the couple, who value the beverage component of their restaurant as much as the culinary side. Chef Michael Wright leads the kitchen, crafting favorites like fried calamari and margherita pizzas alongside less-familiar takes like gnocchi with seafood and smoked salmon "bacon," and a pizza with apple and goat cheese.


Mirbeau Inn & Spa

851 W. Genesee St., Skaneateles, N.Y.
Telephone (315) 685-5006
Website www.mirbeau.com
Award of Excellence

 Cutting into a scallop dish at Mirbeau Inn & Spa
French influences are evident on the menu at Mirbeau Inn & Spa’s location in Skaneateles, N.Y. (Courtesy of Mirbeau Inn & Spa)

Set in the Finger Lakes region, Mirbeau Inn & Spa was founded in 2000 by a husband-and-wife team seeking to create a hospitality-driven lodging experience. Today, it's still a charming destination well-suited to quick getaways, featuring soft lighting and warm colors that are meant to evoke the type of aesthetic found in the paintings of Claude Monet. In the Award of Excellence–winning dining room, chef Clement Coleman serves French-inflected American cuisine using ingredients from around the Finger Lakes. That's paired with wine director Errol A. Joseph's 160-selection wine list. California is most prominently represented, rounded out by French and Italian reds as well as a handful of wines from Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and Australia. Mirbeau Inn & Spa has since opened two other locations in Plymouth, Mass., and Rhinebeck, N.Y., both of which are also home to Award of Excellence–winning restaurants.


Taverna Novo

62 Beekman St., Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Telephone (518) 886-1680
Website www.tavernanovo.com
Award of Excellence

 Cacio e pepe at Taverna Novo
Indulge in Italian comforts like cacio e pepe at Taverna Novo. (Courtesy of Taverna Novo)

For both the menu and wine list, sourcing is an important factor at Award of Excellence winner Taverna Novo in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.. Chef Shawn Shelmandine crafts the Italian menu of appetizers, pastas, pizzas and entrées using local and organic ingredients whenever possible. Wine director Patricia Novo, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband, Jeffery, constructed the list with a similar mentality, highlighting organic, biodynamic and sustainably produced selections. Those wines are marked by a leaf symbol on the list, and there are also symbols indicating rarer selections such as Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir Napa Valley Carneros Hyde Vineyard 2018 and Turnbull Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Black Label 2017. Patricia accompanies each pick with tasting notes and informative context. The format makes this wine list particularly accessible, as does the by-the-glass program of nearly 20 selections, which are also available in a 15-ounce or 30-ounce carafe.


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Restaurants Dining Out New York Restaurant Awards

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