Wine Time

Here Are the Houston Wine Pros Competing at Iron Sommelier 2017

Christian Varas, winner of the Iron Sommelier in 2016.
Christian Varas, winner of the Iron Sommelier in 2016. Photo by Dave Rossman
Wine. What do you know about it? Probably not as much as the 14 sommeliers competing at this year's Iron Sommelier competition, a swanky fundraiser and tasting event that benefits The Periwinkle Foundation. Celebrating its tenth anniversary, the competition goes down at the Houstonian on November 9 at 6 p.m. and it's one of the most anticipated wine events that Houston has to offer.

That's because each year the city's top sommeliers, who are currently regarded as the state's best wine professionals, sweeping the Texsom competition for the past two years, prepare fun and informative themed presentations of three wines for guests. Last year's themes included everything from Orange Wine Is the New Black to Game of Rhones to the winning theme, Goût de Terroir — Digging For Texture. The somms are judged on creativity, presentation and knowledge.

Competing this year:
  • Andres Blanco, Caracol, winner of Texsom Best Sommelier 2017
  • Adele Corrigan, 13 Celsius
  • Matt Crawford, State of Grace
  • Jane-Paige B. D’Huyvetter, River Oaks Country Club
  • Chris Fleischman, Riel
  • Sam Governale, Emmaline
  • Lexey Johnson, B&B Butchers
  • Brandon Kerne, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse
  • Farrah Cauley, Sonoma Wine Bar, Sonoma Heights
  • Thomas Moësse, Vinology and divino
  • Matthew Pridgen, One Fifth
  • Samantha Porter, Oporto Fooding House, Oporto Wine Cafe, Queen Vic Pub & Kitchen
  • Shepard Ross, MadCat Hospitality
  • Evan Turner, Helen Greek Food and Wine, Helen in the Heights
For the ultimate ritzy experience, Underwriters can experience private tasting presentations by each 2017 competing sommelier in the Grand Tasting Room or indulge in a four-course tasting menu by James Beard Award-winning chefs paired with rare wines hand-selected by past Iron Sommelier winners in the Champions Tasting Room.

Tickets are $200 in advance, $225 day of. For more information, visit or

The Periwinkle Foundation develops and provides programs that positively change the lives of children, young adults and families who are challenged by cancer and other life-threatening illnesses and are cared for at Texas Children’s Hospital. Funds raised through the Iron Sommelier help support the Periwinkle Camps, Arts and Survivor Programs that serve more than 14,000 children, teens and families.

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Gwendolyn Knapp is the food editor at the Houston Press. A sixth-generation Floridian, she is still torn as to whether she likes smoked fish dip or queso better.