Foodie Events / Restaurants

The Ultimate Wine Party is Back — Your Cheat Sheet to the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair: Don’t Miss the Anything But Ordinary Sunday Brunch

BY // 04.04.18

Looking to spice up the rest of your week? You don’t need to look too far. Just to Sugar Land.

The 15th annual Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair runs tonight through Sunday, April 8. The yearly wine festival regularly draws crowds of nearly 7,000. Events from a chef-driven The Grand Tasting to the casual Sip & Stroll at Brazos River Park, it should be an affair to remember.

The palate paradise kicks off tonight at 6:30 with the supreme surf-and-turf dinner, One if By Land, Two if By Sea. You can purchase tickets for individual events, which range from $40 to $125, or a weekend pass from Thursday to Sunday for $250. The VIP Package covers the same days and includes a three-night hotel stay for two at the Sugar Land Marriott Town Square and is priced at $750.

The Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, creators of the festival, promise five days of foodie bliss. Keri Schmidt, now president and CEO of the FBCC, spearheaded the very first Sugar Land wine fest. In 2016, the FBCC teamed up with IWSC Group North America to put on the event, and they’ve worked together ever since.

“Back then, there was no multi-day wine festival in the Houston region,” Schmidt tells PaperCity. She researched the Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta before debuting the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair.

As of right now, the weather is looking pretty good this week for the festival. But if there’s rain, no matter. “Rain or shine, we drink wine!” Schmidt says.

When it comes to wine, the festival is centered on education and discovery.

“I think that we’ve done a tremendous amount of exposing people to new wines they’ve never tried before,” Schmidt says. Before the fest, “I would have considered myself a big fan of wine who didn’t know a lot about it. I thought that the biggest downfall of the event would be that I became a wine snob.”

That wasn’t the case. The festival promises a range of fine vintages and reserves at The Grand Tasting, the most elegant event of the festival,  as well as surprising, budget friendly vinos throughout the weekend.

But wine is just half of the delight. You can expect top-notch food as well.

“We wanted to make sure the food was as an important an element as the wine. We wanted to showcase chefs from all over the Houston region and beyond,” Schmidt notes. Chefs have come from Austin, Dallas and San Antonio and from places as far as Maine and even New Zealand.

This year, talent from Houston’s Mala Sichuan to Who Made the Cake! and Belle Station will showcase their skills. Austin-based Joe Humel is a veteran of the fest and will be back this year, showing off his New York-style Rockstar Bagels. In the past, his impressive schmear spread included lobster cream cheese.

The Bistro Brunch’s signature Spanish Paella dish is a showstopper, Schmidt says. The chef prepares it onsite in a giant wood-fired grill, so the guests can watch the entire process. The Sunday brunch dish is prepared in a 52-inch Paella pan — which makes roughly 350 portions. Everyone at the laid-back brunch gets a taste.

Some other highlights: Thursday night’s Bar Fight! is a bartender face-off, a challenge to see who can make the finest Paloma. The fest has them covered with Don Julio and Mexican street food galore.

Saturday’s Sip & Stroll is among the most popular events, set up against a park by the Brazos River. It makes for a breezy afternoon of bites, craft cocktails, wine education classes from somms and beverage industry experts, and of course, an expansive wine selection.

Tickets are available through April 8. It’s not too late to get your affairs in order.

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