As vines all over Wine Country begin to awaken from their winter slumber, there’s another reason to celebrate around here: It’s awards season.
And since the Great Wine Capitals Global Network recognizes Napa Valley as one of 10 Great Wine Capitals around the world (and the only one in North America), the organization recently celebrated Napa Valley hospitality businesses as leaders in the 2020 Best of Wine Tourism awards.
The GWC doled out seven awards to local wineries, hotels, and businesses across categories including accommodations; architecture and landscape; art and culture; innovative wine tourism experience; sustainable wine tourism practices; wine tourism restaurant; and wine tourism services.
Here are the 2022 winners from Napa Valley:
Carneros Resort & Spa
Winner - Accommodations
There’s no question the country-chic 92 rooms, suites, and private homes at Carneros Resort & Spa are luxurious, but the property is doing good work in the local wine community, too. In 2021 the resort launched a Diversity in Wine program that highlights wines made from vintners and winemakers of color. Carneros also spotlights area wineries at the resort’s Vinyl + Wine series and complimentary Friday wine receptions. The resort offers complimentary transportation to neighboring wineries, and guests can visit the onsite market for dozens of local varietals. All guest rooms offer Plum wine dispensers for on-demand local wine, and in-room virtual tastings are led by area winemakers. At FARM, the on-site restaurant, the wine list has grown to more than 800 selections. The resort even has a 900-square-foot educational Carneros Vineyard in the heart of the property.
Auberge du Soleil
Winner - Wine Tourism Restaurant
With 13 consecutive Michelin Star awards, The Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil is no stranger to accolades. Executive Chef Robert Curry sources the freshest ingredients from local purveyors to create delicious dishes that showcase the region's best seasonal ingredients. Whether guests feast on the awe-inspiring vista views on the outdoor terrace, or they enjoy the comfort of the intimate dining room, the delectable Mediterranean-inspired cuisine is complemented by the atmosphere and the extensive selection of wines from the hotel’s 15,000 bottle cellar. The restaurant was founded in 1981 by visionary French restaurateur Claude Rouas as Napa Valley’s first fine dining establishment and has maintained its legacy as a “must experience” culinary destination for more than 40 years.
Clif Family Winery & Farm
Winner - Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices
The Clif Family, which made its name selling healthy energy bars, has been about wellness and sustainability since the beginning. Clif Family estate vineyards have received certifications from both California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and Napa Green. Wine tasting experiences pair seasonal ingredients from the family’s organic farm with these wines. Clif Family is enrolled in a community choice aggregate to source 100 percent clean energy to power its facilities, and the company has made a commitment to achieve net zero-emissions by 2050 via the SME Climate Hub. In 2020, Clif Family received a California Sustainable Winegrowing Green Medal Leadership Award for its community work and sustainability initiatives.
BRAND Napa Valley
Winner - Architectures and Landscapes
The BRAND Napa Valley tasting room was inspired by the estate’s natural surroundings and strong architectural features. St. Helena-based interior designer Erin Martin reconceptualized the space in 2020, combining antiques and bespoke pieces with warm tones and soft touches to play against the structure’s bold stonework and mixed metals. The winery and caves, constructed in 2013 by Architect Juancarlos Fernandez, were built into the hillside with environmentally sensitive materials and practices that align with BRAND’s focus on sustainability. Last year BRAND Napa Valley also was awarded California Home + Design’s 2021 winery design award.
Charles Krug Winery (shown above)
Winner - Art and Culture
Art is always front and center at Charles Krug Winery; leadership aspires to make the winery the "Cultural Hub of Napa Valley," and they do so through their deep support of food, wine, and the arts. The winery regularly hosts gallery shows in its halls, and sponsors events that celebrate local artists and cultural groups. As Napa Valley reopened in 2021, Krug was home to Blue Note Napa, Festival Napa Valley, Music in the Vineyards, Cochon 555/Heritage Fire, comedy shows, and drive-in movies sponsored by the Napa Valley Film Festival and the Cameo Theater. It’s also worth noting that Charles Krug won the Great Wine Capitals award for this same category in 2020.
Napa Valley Wine Academy
Winner - Wine Tourism Services
The Napa Valley Wine Academy (NVWA) is the largest provider of WSET wine courses outside of WSET London, and each year the local school brings in more than 3,000 students. The academy’s wine courses start with an arrival experience at the Study Lounge, where students can enjoy a glass of local sparkling wine and get to know each other and the tutor. Students can pick up books from the on-site wine library or taste wine while watching educational films from Napa Valley vineyards. The Academy even organizes Harvest Experiences for students that combine education with visits to local wineries, restaurants, and local organizations.
Winner - Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences
Winery founders and self-proclaimed foodies Jack and Dolores Cakebread helped shape Napa Valley’s early wine and food culture with their pioneering culinary programs. Today, their sons Bruce and Dennis Cakebread continue to build upon the epicurean legacy, recently opening a new visitor center with signature wine and food seminar programs. The new space overlooks citrus trees and a Sauvignon Blanc vineyard, putting visitors right in the middle of the operation. On the “Garden to Glass” tour/tasting, guests can pick fruit and vegetables straight from Cakebread’s bee-friendly garden, and then enjoy a seated wine and food pairing of dishes made with ingredients harvested from the very same 3/4-acre plot of land. Chef Brian Streeter also hosts cooking classes—both in-person and virtual.
All regional “Best Of” award winners also competed for the global awards. The global awards are judged by an international panel of respected wine tourism professionals and presented at the annual general meeting of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network in Bordeaux, France, and we’re proud to share that Charles Krug was the 2022 Global Winner for the People’s Choice Award.
Congrats to all of Napa Valley’s winners, and we look forward to sharing 2023’s winners later this year.