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We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort restaurant wins award

14 July 2021

(PRESS RELEASE) -- Today, the We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort is thrilled to announce that Ember, its fine dining restaurant, has received Wine Spectator's esteemed "Best of Award of Excellence." The honor recognizes recipients that offer extensive selections with excellent breadth across multiple regions and significant vertical depth, and Ember is now one of 19 restaurants (out of nearly 9,000) in Arizona – and one of approximately 1,000 around the world – to receive this award.

This is the second time that the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation has been lauded by this highly regarded industry publication. In 2006, the Ahnala Mesquite Room received the "Award of Excellence," recognizing the restaurant's wine list that featured a well-chosen assortment of quality producers along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style. The fact that the tribal nation has now been granted two Wine Spectator awards for excellence – an achievement rare among tribal casinos – affirms their commitment to delivering an exceptional culinary experience.

"American restaurants are back in business, as patrons are eagerly returning to dining rooms across the nation," said Marvin R. Shanken, Editor and Publisher, Wine Spectator. "In this year's Restaurant Awards issue, we reflect on how restaurateurs navigated this incredibly difficult period, and look ahead, with every indication that the coming year will be one of the most promising in decades for an industry we all love. It's been a long road back, and it feels wonderful to celebrate restaurants and all they bring to the world of wine."

"The 'Best of Award of Excellence' really belongs to our advanced sommelier Dennis Payne, whose 31 years of experience and painstaking efforts over the past year have resulted in this impeccable award-winning wine list," added Zac Gallo, Executive Director of Food and Beverage for the We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort. "Not only has Dennis cultivated an extensive wine and spirit program, but he ensures the proper care, storage and handling of our collection to maximize our guests' dining experiences."

Ember's wine program covers seventeen countries, focusing on each country's top wine-producing regions and most highly acclaimed vineyards. It includes 517 wines by the bottle and 26 wines by the glass – ranging from a strong California presence to Barbaresco, Rioja, New Zealand, Argentina and Germany – along with 30 Dessert Wines from across the globe as well as 15 Ports and Madeiras.

In addition, Ember has a special page in their 37-page wine list titled "The Century Club," dedicated to the world's top 100-point wines. Curated for fine wine collectors, this list contains 32 critically acclaimed wines spanning more than two decades that have scored a perfect 100 points.

Wine Spectator began its program to recognize the world's best wine lists in 1981. There are three levels: the Award of Excellence, the Best of Award of Excellence and the Grand Award—with 1,673; 1,141; and 103 winners this year in each respective category.

All award winners will be featured in Wine Spectator's special 40th Anniversary Restaurant Awards issue, available to readers today.

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