Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Ranked #1 Wine Brand on Wine & Spirits Magazine's 30th Anniversary Restaurant Poll
Mar 15, 2019,
The 30th Anniversary issue features Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars as this year’s most popular wine brand in America’s top restaurants. Click ‘Read More’ for the official press release.
The results of Wine & Spirits Magazine’s 30th Annual Restaurant Poll show a wine market in flux, pulled toward high-end tasting menus, value-priced Burgundy, natural wine debates and half-glass pours.
Over the course of 30 years, the poll has predicted two economic contractions: In 2000 and 2007, fewer sommeliers reported wine sales increasing as a percentage of their restaurant’s total sales, while more of them reported wine sales staying the same. This year, once again, fewer sommeliers reported that their wine sales increased, and more reported sales stayed the same. Is this contraction a preface to the next recession, or is it a function of Millennials choosing cocktails over wine? For now, sommeliers report that sales remain robust at the top of the market, as well as for less expensive bottles. That disparity may be strongest in San Francisco, where, according to Gianpaolo Paterlini, wine director at Acquerello, the middle has fallen out of the restaurant wine market.
“We’re seeing more extremes now,” Paterlini told the editors at Wine & Spirits. “Ten years ago, everyone would have a moderately priced wine on the table. Now we’re seeing a large number of guests who don’t drink at all; people who drink a glass or a cheap bottle; and people who come in and spend $500 or more. The middle ground is gone.”
Stability is no longer a given, with the classic California cabernet brands that long dominated the poll now sharing table space with Rioja, Sancerre, Barolo and a bevy of pinot noir growers. Fifteen years in, in 2004, sommeliers listed a total of 76 different varieties among the Most Popular wines at their restaurants. This year’s Poll showed that number has nearly doubled, to 143, with bottles of Georgian rkatsiteli and Piemontese timorasso earning sufficient mentions to rise onto the Most Popular wines listings.
Even so, a number of brands have sustained their place at the top of the list, with 11 brands in the Restaurant Top 50 also represented in the original Top 50 list. In 1989, the first year of the Poll: Sonoma-Cutrer was #1; Jordan was #3; Trefethen #5; Chateau Montelena #7; Duckhorn #17; Cakebread Cellars, Silver Oak Wine Cellars and Veuve Clicquot tied at #22; Marchesi Antinori, Ferrari-Carano and R. López de Heredia tied at #35.
“When we established the Poll, sommeliers were becoming an increasingly influential force in the wine community,” says Joshua Greene, Editor & Publisher of Wine & Spirits Magazine. “We rely on them to join our tasting panels and have from the inception of the magazine. Since it’s no secret in the wine trade that the taste preferences of sommeliers are often different from the taste of many of the diners they serve, our poll asks sommeliers what wines they are, in fact, selling. The results have become a fascinating barometer of consumer tastes, as seen through the gatekeepers at America’s most popular restaurants.”
The 30th-Anniversary issue contains a synopsis of three decades of sommelier commentary, as well as this year’s Restaurant Top 50—a list of the brands that received the most mentions from participating restaurants. This year, three ties brought 11 wineries into the Top Ten Most Popular Restaurant Wine List Brands of 2018:
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Jordan Vineyard & Winery R. López de Heredia Rombauer Vineyards Cakebread Cellars Kistler Faust Sonoma-Cutrer Lucien Crochet Duckhorn Vineyards Silver Oak Wine Cellars The Anniversary issue also includes a look back at pinot noirs from the 1990s and 2000s from three growers on the Sonoma Coast, many of their oldest vines first planted in 1989, and a look ahead at the top pinot noir growers of Central Otago, where the region’s first commercial release—from Rippon—dates to 1989. It also features a roundup of the most exciting restaurants and bars in Los Angeles right now. The issue will be available at newsstands, bookstores, and in digital format on March 19, 2019.