Wednesday Nowak Talking Stick Resort Wine Spectator’s 2019 Restaurant Awards

Wednesday Nowak is Talking Stick Resort’s wine director and sommelier. Orange Sky was one of nearly 20 Scottsdale restaurants honored in Wine Spectator’s 2019 Restaurant Awards.

Eighteen Scottsdale restaurants have been honored in Wine Spectator’s 2019 Restaurant Awards, which highlights dining destinations around the world that offer the best wine selections.

Overall, the Restaurant Awards program honored 3,800 restaurants from all 50 states and 79 countries.

The awards are split into three categories: Award of Excellence, Best of Award of Excellence and Grand Award Winner.

Nearly 2,500 restaurants were winners in the Award of Excellence category. 

These restaurants boast a well-chosen assortment of quality producers and offer at least 90 selections. 

In Scottsdale, the 10 winners were Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse, Roka Akor, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Village Tavern, deseo at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, Preston’s Steakhouse, Mastro’s Steakhouse and both Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar locations. 

More than 1,200 restaurants won the Best of Award of Excellence award – restaurants that typically offer 350 or more selections. 

The eight Scottsdale winners include Talavera Restaurant at Four Seasons Scottsdale, Bourbon Steak at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, The Capital Grille, Mastro’s Ocean Club, Orange Sky at Talking Stick Resort, Mastro’s City Hall Steakhouse, Cafe Monarch and J&G Steakhouse at The Phoenician.

“We feel that the [Restaurant] Awards are a highly prestigious honor,” said Patrick Norton, J&G Steakhouse general manager. 

“We are delighted that the Wine Spectator has chosen to affirm what we feel and believe – that our beverage program at J&G Steakhouse is one of the major pillars of our success over the past 10-plus years,” Norton said, adding:

 “We are very proud of everything that J&G’s Sommelier and Beverage Manager Taylor Chandler, along with Jared Sowinski, as well as the entire purchasing and receiving teams have done to deserve this award.”

Though no Arizona restaurants won the Grand Award, the state did bring in a similar number of awards this year – 60 compared to last year’s 63.

“We’re pleased to shine a spotlight on the destinations around the world that show devotion to their wine program, while also creating a comprehensive global dining guide for our readers to enjoy,” said Wine Spectator editor/publisher Marvin R. Shanken.

“Both novice wine lovers and seasoned sommeliers alike actively seek and frequent restaurants with exciting, well-curated wine lists,” he said.

Cafe Monarch in Old Town Scottsdale is a first-time winner of the Best of Award of Excellence.

For Fleming’s at Hilton Scottsdale Resort & Villas, however, this marks the restaurant’s 20th year winning the Award of Excellence. It’s been a winner since 1999.

Fogo de Chão has won the Award of Excellence award 10 years in a row. 

Other longtime Award of Excellence winners include Ruth’s, a winner since 1997; Village Tavern, which has received the award since 2001; Fleming’s on Pima Road, since 2003; and deseo, since 2005.

“We are honored, once again, to be included in the 2019 Wine Spectator’s Restaurant Awards,” said Jeff Barba, Westin Kierland Resort & Spa’s director of food and beverage, adding:

“I believe it gives our guests a certain level of comfort when dining in deseo. Not only will there be a nice selection of wines, but more importantly, the deseo team is knowledgeable and lends insightful assistance in guiding guests through the selection process.”

Barba continued: “Given deseo’s wine list is 100 percent comprised of wines from South America, staff education is critical to ensuring a memorable and refined guest experience.”

A total of three Mastro’s restaurants in Scottsdale won awards.

Robbi Jo Oliver, the senior director for wine and spirits and training for Mastro’s Restaurants, called the win a “true honor.”

“It truly makes us all proud and validates the team. We get a sense of accomplishment and that feels very nice,” said Robbi Jo Oliver, the senior director for wine and spirits and training for Mastro’s Restaurants.

Mastro’s Steakhouse at the Post Oak Hotel in Houston was one of eight Grand Award winners.

“To be awarded several Best of Awards of Excellence and the Grand Award at our Houston location is an incredible honor for everyone who works so hard on our programs at Mastro’s,” Oliver said. “We are beyond thrilled that we have been recognized with such honors. The moment the Awards were announced, a huge congratulations was sent to all our local wine directors and general managers – the whole company was copied, of course! We are so proud.”

Talavera, a Best of Award of Excellence recipient, has won the award since 2015.

“This accomplishment is one that does not happen without a truly dedicated and passionate team who wants to master their craft. Our team is regularly tasting, sharing stories and knowledge of our evolving list of wines so that we are best prepared to provide a special and memorable dining experience to our guests,” said Bryan Feigenbaum, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North director of food & beverage.

This year marks Orange Sky’s third Best of Award of Excellence award. 

Ramon Martinez, director of public relations for Talking Stick Resort, called the win a “great honor” that the team does not take for granted.

He credits Talking Stick Resort’s wine director and sommelier, Wednesday Nowak, for the recognition.

“Instead, we make a continuous effort to diversify our wine lists giving guests an amazing selection from which to choose,” he said. “This award means we are doing something right.”

The full list of award winners is available in print in Wine Spectator’s August issue, on newsstands July 16.

In the meantime, all winners are profiled at restaurants.winespectator.com.