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8 Outstanding Winery Restaurants

Drink straight from the source at these Wine Spectator Restaurant Award–winning spots
Photo by: Corey Gaffer
City Winery Chicago serves a variety of wines on tap so guests can enjoy pours directly from the barrel.

Posted: May 24, 2018

Winery visits are essential for any enophile, and many offer high-caliber dining experiences as well. They offer a refreshing change of pace from simply picking a bottle off a shelf or a selection from a wine list, connecting you to the source for an enriched wine experience. The wine lists at these Restaurant Award winners highlight proprietary wines alongside picks from other producers to please a range of palates. Discover these eight winery destinations that know the best way to showcase their labels is in an exceptional restaurant.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,500 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 87 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!


Corey Gaffer
City Winery Chicago is one of four Restaurant Award–winning locations across the country.

CITY WINERY CHICAGO
The Chicago outpost of an innovative take on urban wineries
1200 W. Randolph St., Chicago, Ill.
(312) 733-9463
www.citywinery.com/chicago
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 555
Inventory 7,000
Not your average restaurant City Winery is a one-stop destination for dining, winemaking and socializing, with nightly live music and events. The chain has three other Restaurant Award–winning locations, in Atlanta, Nashville and New York.
Wine strengths Wine director Rebekah Mahru highlights a wide range of regions and styles on the eclectic list. California, Burgundy, France, Italy and Spain are the focus, but the program also features less traditional picks like Israeli wines and orange wines.
Cuisine There are several dining options on the property including concert dining, patio dining and private dining. At the main restaurant on the ground floor, chef Andres Barrera creates Mediterranean–influenced American dishes like chilled corn gazpacho and Spanish cod.
Small batches on tap The winery serves a handful of its wines on tap. Pouring them straight from stainless-steel kegs cuts out the bottling process for a “fresher” wine. In addition to the wines made on site, there’s also a guest tap featuring rotating selections.
Educational approach With seasonal by-the-glass pours, an informative wine list and an abbreviated Somm Selections list, Mahru’s program is all about making wine more accessible.


George Kartis
Mermaid Winery recently expanded with another location in Virginia Beach, Va.

MERMAID WINERY
A pioneer of the Norfolk wine scene
330 W. 22nd St., Norfolk, Va.
(757) 233-4155
www.mermaidwinery.com
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 770
Inventory 8,775
Norfolk wine destination The first urban winery in the area, Mermaid produces small lots of wines with grapes sourced from Virginia and California. A page of the wine list is dedicated to these labels, which include unusual selections like strawberry wine blended with Merlot. The company recently opened a Virginia Beach location that also features an expansive wine list and an American menu.
Wine strengths The Burgundy section is filled with top producers and premiers crus, plus a vertical of Domaine d'Eugénie Clos Vougeot. There are more than 140 Champagnes, most of which are $150, and additional highlights in California and Italy. Owner Jennifer Eichert oversees the program.
Cuisine Chef Tomas Carroll serves an inexpensive menu of wine-friendly American dishes, from light bites like bruschetta and hummus with naan to pastas and steaks. Guests can build charcuterie boards from a list of meats and cheeses like truffle-Sangiovese salami from Virginia.
Join the club Mermaid Winery offers a wine club that gives members three bottles of wine per month—or two higher-end wines with the premium option—as well as special discounts, complimentary tastings and exclusive events.


Eli Pitta
At the Restaurant At Wente Vineyards, chef Mike Ward serves American dishes such as smoked duck breast with crispy polenta and broccoli relish.

THE RESTAURANT AT WENTE VINEYARDS
A local-loving restaurant with a lengthy wine list
5050 Arroyo Road, Livermore, Calif.
(925) 456-2450
www.wentevineyards.com
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 990
Inventory 5,000
Longtime wine destination With Charles Krug as his mentor, C.H. Wente founded his winery in 1883. Wente passed the business down to his sons, and today it’s owned by the family’s fourth and fifth generations. The winery celebrates its 135th anniversary in 2018, and the restaurant earned its first Best of Award of Excellence in 1987.
Wine strengths The locally focused program primarily offers West Coast wines, with spectacular breadth and depth in California. Nearly 250 selections on wine director Jorge Tinoco’s list come from Livermore Valley.
Celebrating Chardonnay Wente Vineyards began with Chardonnay plantings imported from France. The restaurant honors its heritage with a stellar selection of Chardonnays, including an extensive vertical of Wente's The Nth Degree.
Cuisine Chef Mike Ward’s American menu embraces estate-grown ingredients, with produce from the restaurant’s organic garden and beef raised on neighboring farms. Other dining options include the Grill, for more casual fare, and the menu of small bites available in each tasting room.


Cafe Provencal
Dishes at Cafe Provencal include seared diver scallops with pork belly from a local farm.

CAFE PROVENCAL AT WILLIAMSBURG WINERY
A boutique hotel, restaurant and tasting room in Colonial Williamsburg
Williamsburg Winery, 5810 Wessex Hundred, Williamsburg, Va.
(757) 941-0317
www.cafe-provencal.com
Open for dinner, Tuesday to Sunday

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 300
Inventory 2,000
Wine strengths Wine director Simon Smith’s list emphasizes Virginia picks but provides a solid selection from France and California.
Backyard harvest The winery sources grapes from its own 300-acre vineyard to create labels like Williamsburg Adagio Virginia and Williamsburg Chardonnay Virginia Acte 12 of Sixteen Nineteen, which are all highlighted on the list.
Cuisine Chef David McClure’s French menu is inspired by owner Patrick Duffler’s travels in Provence. McClure applies traditional techniques to local ingredients like York River rockfish, Border Spring Farm lamb and Autumn Olive Farms pork belly. Cafe Provencal is only open for dinner, but there’s also a tavern for lunch and brunch service.
All-encompassing experience Choose from an array of tours and tastings ranging from $10 to $80 per person. For guests seeking an overnight stay, there are plenty of packages bundling accommodations, multicourse meals and wine tastings.


The Biltmore Company
Biltmore Estate’s Dining Room treats guests to luxurious American-French cuisine and a 280-selection wine list.

THE DINING ROOM AT BILTMORE ESTATE
A romantic destination on George Vanderbilt’s sprawling estate
Inn on Biltmore Estate, 1 Antler Hill Road, Asheville, N.C.
(828) 225-1699
www.biltmore.com
Open for dinner, daily

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 280
Inventory 5,000
Historic destination Built by George Washington Vanderbilt II of the prominent Vanderbilt family in the late 1800s, the estate’s Biltmore house is the largest privately-owned home in the United States. Vanderbilt’s descendants, the Cecil Family, now own the property.
Wine strengths Restaurant manager Artur Loli manages the Dining Room’s 280-selection list of primarily North American selections. California is the program’s strongest region, but you’ll also find excellent offerings throughout France and Italy. Biltmore’s own sparkling, white, red and rosé wines are available by the bottle or glass. Guests can also opt for a three-course wine pairing for $30, or a five-course pairing for $40.
Cuisine The restaurant incorporates French and American cuisines and uses estate-sourced herbs, produce, meats, eggs and more. Chef Sean Eckman previously worked at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa, home of Best of Award of Excellence winner Lautrec, as well as the Breakers hotel, home of Grand Award winner HMF.
Adventures included Overnight guests can take advantage of complimentary activities such as morning yoga classes, guided hikes and wine tastings.


Farmstead At Long Meadow Ranch
Farmstead At Long Meadow Ranch highlights organic and local ingredients on its regional American menu.

FARMSTEAD AT LONG MEADOW RANCH
A wine destination with a land-loving philosophy
738 Main St., St. Helena, Calif.
(707) 963-4555
www.longmeadowranch.com
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 160
Inventory 3,300
Wine strengths The wine list stars a collection of Long Meadow Ranch wines available by bottle or on tap, alongside plenty of other California labels and some international picks. Wine director Chris Hall is part of the original family of owners who purchased the ranch in 1989. The Halls revived the vineyards and orchards, which had lay abandoned since Prohibition.
Cuisine Chef Stephen Barber serves a regional American menu using organic produce and grass-fed meats. Dishes include caramelized beets with Skyhill Farms goat cheese crema and wood-grilled pork chop with jalapeño grits.
Friendly farm Farmstead emphasizes wines from producers who share its values, such as biodynamic selections from Beaujolais’ Lafarge-Vial and the all-female-run Spottswoode winery.
Immersive meal For $145, guests can take a tour through the culinary garden before dining at the chef’s table, where the menu changes frequently. Each course is paired with a Long Meadow Ranch wine.


Jeromy Ball
Winemakers Gray Hartley and Frank Ostini present their exclusive labels at the Hitching Post II.

THE HITCHING POST II
Come for the Sideways cameo, stay for the wine list
406 E. Highway 246, Buellton, Calif.
(805) 688-0676
www.hitchingpost2.com
Open for dinner, daily

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 135
Inventory 2,600
Rich history Opened in 1986, the Hitching Post II claims to be the oldest full-service restaurant in the Santa Ynez Valley. Frank and Natalie Ostini established the original location in Casmalia, Calif., in 1952, and the family still maintains ownership today.
Wine strengths Managed by wine director Kerry Farao, the wine list almost exclusively features California wines, showcasing plenty of Hitching Post labels. A collection of aged Pinot Noirs lists bottles from 2003 to 2007 from producers around the world such as Expression 44°, Bonaccorsi and Michel Gros.
Cuisine The restaurant calls its signature cuisine “Santa Maria–style barbecue,” a regional style of grilling using red oak and a secret spice blend. Chef Brad Lettau’s menu also offers dishes like pork ribs and grilled quail, as well as some seafood options.
On-screen scene The winery gained serious exposure when it was featured in the 2004 Academy Award–winning movie Sideways, which was filmed on location in Santa Ynez Valley.
Upcoming enhancement Frank Ostini recently announced plans to open a tasting room adjacent to the restaurant in July 2018. The team hopes to offer an abbreviated lunch menu at the new space and the surrounding picnic grounds.


The Restaurant at Justin
Justin winery boasts an acclaimed flagship wine and an Award of Excellence–winning restaurant.

THE RESTAURANT AT JUSTIN
Dining, drinking and lodging at a big-name winery
Just Inn, 11680 Chimney Rock Road, Paso Robles, Calif.
(805) 591-3224
www.justinwine.com
Open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 250
Inventory 1,500
Family roots Justin Baldwin went from investment banking to winemaking when he purchased the Paso Robles land and planted a 65-acre vineyard in 1981. The winery was then purchased in 2010 by the Wonderful Company, which also owns Landmark.
Wine strengths The restaurant’s wine director, Jim Gerakaris, showcases Justin labels while providing a variety of classic wines from around the world, especially France. There are plenty of high-end Burgundies from producers such as François Raveneau. A solid Bordeaux section gives a nod to the varieties used in Justin blends, which are mostly presented in verticals, such as the one of Château Mouton-Rothschild.
Coveted California blend The 1997 vintage of Justin’s flagship wine, Isosceles, earned the No. 6 spot in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines of 2000.
Cuisine The restaurant works with nearby farms and its own estate garden to supply chef Will Torres’ Californian menu. Lunch is à la carte, but for dinner, a five-course meal runs $130 with wine pairings for an additional $45. A reserve wine pairing is also available for $99.


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