It’s time once again for the annual the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair. This is the eleventh year the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce has hosted the five-day-long celebration of food and booze, which is so popular that many events are already sold out. Here's a look at the ones that aren't—but be sure to get your tickets fast.
Thursday, April 24
Hendrick’s Gin On the Rocks Bartender’s Challenge
6:30—9 p.m., Anson Aviation–Sugar Land Regional Airport
Some of Houston’s most popular bartenders will put their mixology skills to the test inside an airport hangar while guests mingle, nibble and taste cocktails made with Hendrick’s Gin. The winner will be awarded $1,000. His or her recipe will be named the official cocktail of the 11th Annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair and be served at the Grand Tasting, Sip & Stroll, and Bistro Brunch events. The competitors are:
- Luis Villegas of El Big Bad
- Nathan Reffell of Lei Low Rum Lounge
- Sheridan Fay of El Big Bad and Triniti
- Blake Jorgensen of Prohibition Craft of Cocktails
- Leslie Ross of Triniti
The judges this year are Nick Babcock, Houston mixologist for Republic National Distributing Company; Kris von Dopek, Hendrick’s Gin ambassador; KHOU 11 News’ Katherine Whaley; and Kehlen Selph, the winner of the 2013 contest. It’s sure to be a good time. Tickets are $40.
Friday, April 25
Pick A Seminar: Wine, Whiskey, or Tequila
5:30—6:30 p.m., Sugar Land Marriott Town Square
Pick your favorite and then learn more about it in a one-hour seminar. The Fred Parks Wine Seminar: Battle of Sexes, hosted by E&J Gallo representative Monique Studak and Cordua Group Beverage Director/Sommelier James Watkins, is sure to be lively. It’s an in-depth look at whether women and men’s preferences are guided by gender rather than grapes.
If you love Irish whiskey more than wine, you will want instead to sign up for the Tullamore Dew seminar, where brand ambassador Maurice “Mossie” Power will discuss the ins and outs of what it takes to produce this spirit.
This is South Texas and we do love our tequila. Herradurra knows it too, so they’re hosting their own seminar and tasting as well. We suspect there will be plenty of delightful things to taste at each of these. Tickets are $50 each. (Note that as of this writing, there are very few tickets left for the whiskey and tequila seminars, so hurry!)
The Grand Tasting
7–9:30 p.m., Sugar Land Marriott Town Square
The Grand Tasting is probably one of the most anticipated annual events that is part of the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair. It’s will be held in the elegant ballroom of the Sugar Land Marriott. Craft beer, wine, and, of course, food will be available for attendees. Jacques Fox of Artisans, Frederick Perrier of Aura and Coco Pazzo, pastry wonder-woman Rebecca Masson, Randy Evans of Haven, and Maurizio Ferrrarese of Quattro are just a few of the featured chefs.
In addition, there are three chefs visiting from Mexico—Arturo García Mogollón of Taller del Chef, Yolanda Yanar of Velas Vallarta / Cooking Etc., and Isaac Esparza of Sen Lin, who will create dishes that reflect indigenous ingredients and technique. The chefs will be paired with wine producers from Mexico and makers of small-batch tequilas, many of which are difficult to find here in the U.S.
Saturday, April 26
Sip and Stroll
1—4 p.m., Historic Imperial Sugar Factory
Yes, it’s another opportunity to eat and drink! Go figure. Restaurants and wineries will be showcasing their wares on the grounds of the (no longer in operation, but a landmark regardless) Imperial Sugar Factory. The Sip and Stroll will also include a new outdoor beer garden featuring more than 100 beers from 25 different breweries.
Our compatriots over at My Table Magazine are also sponsoring a pop-up book shop during the event. Houston-area cookbook authors—including Paul Galvani, Erin Hicks, Gracie Cavnar, Shubhra Ramineni, Efisio Farris, Ken Hoffman, John DeMers, and Américas father-and-son team Michael and David Cordúa—will be on hand to sign their books in a chic lounge setting in the old Char House.
Sunday, April 27
11 a.m.—2 p.m., Sugar Land Town Square
Wrapping it up in grand style is Sunday’s Bistro Brunch. Attendees can partake of Bloody Marys, mimosas, wine, and beer and nosh on cuisine from Texas, the rest of the U.S. (yes, there are parts that aren't Texas), and around the world, including Mexico, France, Spain, Germany, and Italy. Tickets are $50.
If you’re going to multiple events you might consider purchasing the three-day VIP Grand Pass. It gives you access to The Grand Tasting, Sip & Stroll, and Bistro Brunch and is $200 (representing a savings of $40 over purchasing tickets to each separate event. That’s a good deal! It’s like getting the Bistro Bunch for $10). If you’re coming from out of town, get in touch with the official sponsor hotel, the Sugar Land Marriott Town Square, and ask about a special deal for attendees.
Get your tickets at sugarlandwineandfoodaffair.com or call 713-747-9463 for more information. Listings of attending chefs, presenting wine, beer, and spirits providers —updated frequently—are showcased on Facebook and Twitter.