The Vineyard bistro in Havre de Grace named to Wine Spectator's top restaurants list

The Vineyard Wine Bar in Havre de Grace has been recognized by Wine Spectator magazine for having one of the most outstanding restaurant wine lists in the world for 2012.

The wine bar opened at 142 N. Washington St. about four years ago and its owners, Joe Lertch and Jarrod Cronin, have boasted they have a selection of more than 200 wines together with their lunch and dinner menu.

"We have got everything from A to Z in there," Lertch said Wednesday, pointing out a wine with a grape that starts with A (Airen, from Spain) to Z (Zweigelt, from Austria).

In between, the bistro has a number of rare wines, like the Italian passerina and bianchetta genovese.

Lertch said the application to Wine Spectator took about four months and places The Vineyard in an elite group of 3,200 restaurants worldwide that have received the influential lifestyle magazine's recognition.

"It's a very lengthy process," Lertch said of his restaurant's award, explaining the judges analyzed the diversity of the wine selection, staff training, customer reviews, wine pairings with food, the concept of the restaurant (Vineyard's is "European dining") and even the quality of the website, among other factors.

He did not know the exact recognition that the restaurant would receive until this month, when he received the Wine Spectator certificate in the mail.

According to the magazine's website, The Vineyard Wine Bar is an Award of Excellence winner, "our basic award, for [wine] lists that offer a well-chosen selection of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style." The magazine also has two higher tiers of restaurant recognition, Best of Award of Excellence and Grand Award.

Searching the Wine Spectator website by ZIP Code found no other restaurants in Harford County that have received the magazine's recognition in 2012.

Though its restaurant selection process has run into some past criticism, Wine Spectator is recognized as one of the largest circulation food/drink lifestyle magazine in the United States, according to numerous online sources.

When Lertch initially showed the Wine Spectator certificate to his staff, he said the bistro was named one of the best in the country, until it was pointed out to him that the certificate says "the world."

"I thought, 'Wow, how about that,'" he said, adding the award means someone recognizes the effort they put into the restaurant and wine selection.

"We work very hard at it," Lertch said. "For someone to look and recognize that we have these selections is quite an honor."

The Vineyard's accomplishment was recognized by City Councilman David Glenn during Monday night's council meeting.

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