BY Michael Light / On February 20, 2023

We hope you are not giving up culinary delights and creative cocktails for Lent, because the most prestigious gourmet gathering in the nation is upon us once again! The 22nd annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival takes place this week, Thursday February 23 – Sunday February 26, 2023 and according to organizers, there are still some tickets available to the newest & most popular events.

Festival Background

For our post-pandemic transplant readers, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival (SOBEWFF) began in 1997 as Lee Schrager’s 1-day fundraiser for FIU. Back then, Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits was the sponsor and it was called Florida Extravaganza, Mr Schrager was in charge of media relations for Southern Glazer’s. It was a lot of fun, nobody lost an eye, FIU raised funds and all was well in the world.

In 2002, the festival had grown exponentially and was re-born as the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Fast forward to today and the festival now offers multiple days of bougie boozy fun and could really be renamed the South Florida Wine and Food Festival since events are held in venues throughout South Florida. There is also a sister festival in New York, aptly called the NYWFF.

The 2022 festival was enjoyed by over 60,000 attendees with over 100 events dedicated to chefs, culinary personalities, wine and spirits. Despite its unrelenting popularity, SOBEWFF has not lost touch with its philanthropic roots. Over $34 million has been raised in support of its educational mission to cultivate future leaders in the hospitality industry and each year over 1,000 FIU students participate in the execution of the fun-for-funds.

What to Expect at SOBEWFF

If this is your first time at SOBEWFF, you should expect to try new foods, new taste combinations, new textures and flavors, new experiences, make new friends, learn new things, and of course, expect the unexpected. There will also be plenty of celebrity sightings. The SOBEWFF is one of Miami’s more popular events for celebrities who are either working, off the clock, or a combination of the two.

Let’s not forget the 2011 festival when Paula Deen overdid her contractual duty of hosting an event at Whole Foods, rode Robert Irvine rodeo-style with a glass of wine in the air. It was so hysterical, the Internet took over and one of the first viral memes was born. If you don’t believe me, just google “Paula Deen Riding Things”. Yes, it is stupid but it also increased the brand exposure of the festival and nobody got hurt.

SOBEWFF 2011 Paula Deen Riding Things

SOBEWFF 2011 Paula Deen Riding Things

Aside from the fun and food, you will mingle with Food Network personalities, Grammy-winning musicians, and more than 450+ chefs and wine and spirit producers for an unforgettable celebration of walk-around tastings, intimate dinners, late-night parties, brunches, lunches, master classes, wine seminars and more!

Notable Events For 2023

This year, some of the SOBEWFF regulars and local industry titans are going to be very busy. David Grutman is hosting several events for his many local establishments. This includes a sushi-making course at Gekkō, the Japanese restaurat he opened with Bad Bunny in Brickell as well as events with DJ Khaled, Cedric Gervais and more. There will be a farmer’s market brunch with Michael Schwartz, a live version of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Fieri, a dinner with Bobby Flay, a beach club cookout with D Wade and an amazing drag brunch hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.

Always keeping the vibe as fresh as the ingredients, some new events are also being introduced including Foodie Con, a content creator event. There will be cooking demos, interactive panels, immersive activations and book signings with Instagram and Tiktok personalities. We will also see intimate dinners in partnership with the Michelin Guide and special events with local recipients of Michelin Stars.

For a complete lineup of events that still have tickets available, you can check out the SOBEWFF website here. We plan to hit our own food circuit over the weekend and are excited to follow up with reviews of what we found. We hope to see you there!


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