Christian Varas wins Houston's prestigious Iron Sommelier Competition 2016

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Christian Varas, wine director for the River Oaks Country Club, is the winner of the 2016 Iron Sommelier prize, a competition and gala tasting event organized each year by the charitable Periwinkle Foundation.

Competing against last year's winner, Evan Turner of Helen Greek Food and Wine, who took home the second-place prize, and Thomas Moësse of Divino, the third-place winner, Varas impressed a panel of three judges with his presentation of goût de terroir, a French expression that can be loosely translated as flavor (or taste) of the earth or — to borrow an expression from 21st-century winespeak — sense of place

Presenting three wines from three different wine regions — a Chardonnay from Jura (France), a Grenache-Carignan blend from Priorat (Spain) and a Riesling from Mosel (Germany) — Varas focused on the wines' texture and unique expression of provenance to win over the panel.

Varas, Turner and Moësse were three of 14 Houston-based wine professionals who took part in the competition this year. The panel of judges included Master Sommelier Brian Conin, New Orleans-based fine wine distributor Liz Dowty, and Houston Wine Merchant buyer and Italian wine specialist Antonio Gianola.

Originally from Queens, New York, Varas worked in some of the top destinations for fine wines in the U.S., including stints in Manhattan and Las Vegas, before settling in Houston, where he became the wine director for the River Oaks Country Club in 2009. As head sommelier at the elite Houston private club, Varas oversees one of the country's top wine programs, not to mention the private collections of some of the wealthiest wine connoisseurs in the nation.

According to a press release issued by the Periwinkle Foundation following last night's event and competition, "more than $270,000 was raised for Periwinkle’s Camps, Arts and Survivor programs for children, teens and their families challenged by cancer and other life-threatening illnesses," a $40,000 increase with respect to last year. More than 600 persons attended the see-and-be-seen gathering, which was held at the swank Houstonian Hotel, Club, and Spa.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.