Wine Spectator is one of the wine industry’s most respected publications, and restaurants that receive its coveted Award of Excellence and Best of Award of Excellence are properties that offer top-notch culinary experiences. The Award of Excellence recognizes wine lists with unique selections that are appropriate to their cuisine and enticing to a vast range of wine lovers. At least 90 wines are required for consideration. Lists are reviewed for accuracy; must include vintages and appellations; and be impressive in overall presentation. The Best of Award of Excellence was designed to give special recognition to restaurants that push the envelope even further. These lists typically offer 350 wines or more. Along with exceptional presentation, they also display either vintage depth, with numerous vertical offerings of top wines, or distinct breadth across several regions. Here are three inns who made the cut in 2015, and some insight into what makes them so special.
The spirit of Provence surrounds guests stateside at the lavish L’Auberge Provencale Bed & Breakfast in White Post, VA. Located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, this quintessential French Country inn is just an hour from the DC beltway, but staying here feels as though you have been transplanted to a fabulous French countryside escape. The authentic Provençale-style experience combines gracious service coupled with refined, well-appointed rooms and suites with modern luxury amenities. The essence of Provence is apparent throughout the property from the food, gardens, and decor, to the pastoral countryside views and surroundings. Framed by the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains, the inn offers guests plenty of opportunities to relax with wine in hand or enjoy area activities including antiquing, horseback riding, hiking, biking, golfing, canoeing or ballooning. In the morning, guests savor the signature gourmet breakfast served in the sunny peach dining room. While in the evenings, they indulge in the award-winning cuisine and wine list at La Table Provencale, a farm-to-table restaurant that features an innovate menu with the freshest seasonal ingredients. There are more than 1,100 different selections, with a heavy emphasis on French and American wines. There is also a smaller selection of fine, well sought-after wines from Italy, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, Portugal, Austria, Lebanon, Argentina and Germany. The inn is also active in promoting Virginia wines and has its own sommelier onsite. The cellar encompasses more than 7,000 bottles and continues to expand daily, and the restaurant hosts monthly wine dinners with top Virginia producers and winemakers from around the globe. For the past 10 years, L’Auberge Provencale has received the Best of Award of Excellence for its wine strengths in Burgundy, and California selections, which are paired at the restaurant with Modern French cuisine.
Nestled in the spectacular Adirondacks Mountains overlooking a small pristine lake, the exquisite Friends Lake Inn in Chestertown, NY is a boutique hotel that seamlessly unites luxurious accommodations in an idyllic, bucolic country setting. Its location is central to the best of the Empire State, conveniently situated just 30 minutes north of Lake George, 1 ½ hours north of Albany, 3 ½ hours north of New York City, and 1 hour south of Lake Placid. This historic inn was constructed in the 1860s and has relished a 100-year tradition of fine cuisine and exceptional hospitality. Known as a popular retreat for relaxation and tranquility, Friends Lake Inn has been restored to maintain its original beauty and peaceful refinement. There are 17 guestrooms onsite, many featuring king-size beds with luxury linens, Jacuzzi tubs, lake views, wood-burning fireplaces, private bathrooms, entrances and porches. Guests revel in the breathtaking waterside surroundings of the property where they can swim, canoe, kayak or fish. They can also opt to lounge at the outdoor heated pool in warmer months and take advantage of snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on the inn’s trails at its own Snowshoe Center when it gets colder. Nearby area attractions include downhill skiing, cross country-skiing, whitewater rafting, golfing, hiking, antiquing and much more. Friends Lake Inn’s highly acclaimed, award-winning restaurant of DiRoNA distinction, tantalizes wine lovers with innovative New American cuisine complemented by a superior wine collection, served in the rustic sophistication and warmth of its 19th-century dining room. There is also an in-house sommelier onsite. Friends Lake Inn received the Best of Award of Excellence for its wine strengths in France, Italy, and California selections, which are paired at the restaurant with New American cuisine.
Located in Middleburg, VA, the gorgeous Goodstone Inn & Restaurant is a lavish 18th-century country estate and award-winning gourmet restaurant conveniently nestled in the heart of the Old Dominion’s wine and hunt country. Situated on 265 sprawling acres of rolling hills and breathtaking surroundings, guests enjoy luxurious accommodations coupled with top-notch dining and service. This historic property includes five-star quality lodging in six unique structures: The Carriage House (main building), The Dutch Cottage, The French Farm Cottage, The Spring House, The Manor House and The Bull Barn. The candlelit Wine Cellar Dining Room is lined with more than 1,500 bottles of fine wine hailing from around the globe. Guests to Goodstone also enjoy a full-service bar, an elegant spa, a unique outdoor pool, walking and hiking trails, stables for boarding guests’ horses, mountain biking, canoeing and excellent shopping in the quaint town of Middleburg. The Restaurant at Goodstone features state-of-the-art, seasonally-inspired cuisine with a farm-to-table focus. The menu offers French Country cuisine and showcases the freshest of vegetables, herbs, micro greens, eggs and lamb from the Farm at Goodstone as well as other local farms. There is a sommelier onsite, and special wine dinners are often held here, designed to highlight a particular wine region or producer. An impressive series of courses are created to complement the featured wines. The wine list encompasses approximately 400 selections from a dozen countries, in addition to more than 30 selections from local Virginia wineries. All of the wines on the wine list are available for purchase through the Goodstone Retail Wine Club and may be picked up onsite. Goodstone Inn & Restaurant received the Award of Excellence for its wine strengths in international, Bordeaux, Burgundy, and California selections, which are paired with Classic French cuisine.