Sugar Land Sweetens Affair With Chefs, Wine, and Food

Rosie Carbo's picture

Sugar Land, 20 miles southwest of Houston, is poised to receive more than 10,000 food and wine lovers this week. The 12th Annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair kicks off Wednesday, April 8 and runs through Sunday, April 12.

Premium wines, only 400 bottles shy of 3,000, will be swirled, savored, and paired with delicious samplings of haute cuisine prepared by nearly 100 Texas, national, and international celebrity chefs representing some of the region’s best restaurants.


Premium wines at 12th Annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair


Chef John Moeller, a former White House chef under President George H. Bush, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, tops the stellar list of culinary colleagues. Among his many credits, Moeller is the author of Dining at the White House: From the President’s Table to Yours.

Chef Efisio Farris, another renowned chef, is one of several chefs participating in a VIP dinner launching this year’s event. Farris, together with his wife Lori Farris, own Arcodoro in Houston and Pomodoro in Dallas. Both restaurants represent the authentic cuisine of Sardinia, his homeland. Farris is also the author of the Sardinia-focused Sweet Myrtle & Bitter Honey cookbook.

Other award-winning, high profile chefs contributing to this year’s five-day event include Jeffrey Balfour, Rob Snow, Carlos Crusco, Joe Duarte of Taranta in Boston, Shanna and Brian O’Hea from Maine, Mark De Nittis, Jason Nauert, and Kevin Williamson.

During the annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair, food and wine lovers converge on the upscale city in Houston’s backyard to indulge. And indulge they do on fine wines, inspiring cuisine, and a host of name brand spirits. Beer lovers are also taken into account, as evidenced by the presence of 100 beers from 25 breweries.

To many regular attendees and even newcomers, Sugar Land’s annual festival feels like the ideal Spring Break for adults. That’s because this event  features two daytime seminars, wine, beer and spirits tastings, a spectacular auction, and a five-course VIP dinner.


12th Annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair


Produced by the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, all proceeds from the event benefit the permanent scholarship endowment for Houston’s finest hospitality students.
Keri Schmidt, the chamber’s president and SLWFA director believes that the past 12 years have helped raise the city of Sugar Land’s profile and greatly contributed to the local economy.

“The event continues to rise in prestige, attracting renowned chefs from Texas and around the country. It’s become a ‘must-do’ in the culinary world allowing chefs and attendees to see what this city has to offer,” said Schmidt.

Ambiance is one unique aspect Sugar Land has to offer. In fact, most scheduled events take place in the heart of this palm tree-rich city. The venues are: Sugar Land Town Square, Sugar Land Marriott Town Square, the historic Imperial Sugar Factory, the Char House and the Riverstone Club.

An authentic Italian dinner ignites the annual food and wine affair at 6 pm Wednesday, April 8. Dubbed “La Dolce Vita,” the delectable five-course dinner will be at the Sugar Land Marriott Town Square.  Luciano Castello, the official ambassador for Castello Banfi and Vinge Regali, will host the exclusive dinner.


12th Annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair


Guests will travel vicariously to Italy to indulge in classic Italian cuisine paired with Banfi wines. Top chefs from Houston’s Coppa Osteria, The Four Seasons Hotel’s Quattro, Hotel Sorella’s Radio Milano, Hotel Granduca’s Ristorante Cavour, and Arcodoro restaurant will do the honors.

From 6:30 to 9 pm on Thursday, April 9, New Amsterdam Vodka cocktails take center stage at the “On the Rocks Bartenders Challenge” at Riverstone Club.  Guests will enjoy specially, hand crafted cocktails prepared by five of Houston’s most skilled mixologists. The bartenders will compete for a grand prize of $1,000 for the best cocktail. The winning cocktail will be served at each event.


12th Annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair


On Friday, April 10, the Sugar Land Marriott Town Square is the setting for “Wine and Whiskey” seminars. Each lively interactive seminar will be hosted by experts representing the world’s top brands. Here guest learn why their drink of choice is special.

The “Grand Tasting,” a highlight of the annual event, is set for 7 to 9:30 pm Friday evening also at the Sugar Land Town Square Marriott. This exquisite wine tasting and food sampling is held in one of the Marriott’s most elaborate ballrooms.

While attendees dine on chef-prepared delicacies and sip wine, spirits and beer, the “Grand Auction” kicks in to high gear. More than 40 items ranging from vacation getaways to dining and wine packages will be up for grabs. The mega auction benefits the University of Houston’s Conrad N. Hilton CHRM previously mentioned.
Friday, April 11, the fun continues from 1 to 4 pm with a “Sip and Stroll” event at the historic Imperial Sugar factory.  Guests will enjoy live music while sipping beverages of their choice, paired with delectable chef creations. Beer lovers of all stripes won’t want to miss the extended “Bier Garten” at this indoor and outdoor event. This is where they get to sample beer and ale from 25 different breweries.


12th Annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair


The 12th Annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair culminates with an international “Bistro Brunch” from 11 am to 2 pm on Sunday, April 12. The venue is once again Sugar Land Town Square, but this event has a definite international flair. Attendees will enjoy live music, cultural dance performances, food from around the world, wine, spirits, and beer.

Tickets range from $50 to $150 each. A three-day VIP Pass with access to three of the most popular events is priced at $225. For tickets and details visit:  Or call: (713) 747-9463 OR (713) SIP-WINE  



Rosie Carbo is the Lifestyles Editor for Wandering Educators, and is a former newspaper reporter whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines nationwide. Some of those publications include People magazine, The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News. Some of her features were redistributed by The Associated Press early in her career as an award-winning Texas journalist. Read more of Rosie's articles here on her blog.

All photos courtesy and copyright Shannon O'Hara