A year and half before the very first New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) took place in 1992, a passionate group of wine lovers and purveyors, restaurateurs, hoteliers and arts aficionados gathered to establish the city’s most enduring annual wine and food event. They determined that 100 percent of the event proceeds — minus costs, of course — would benefit the arts, careers in wine, and the hospitality industry; and provide funds for other charitable organizations. The first NOWFE was hosted by the Sheraton Hotel. It began as a four-day event consisting of eleven vintner dinners at various restaurants, the Royal Street Experience, two Grand Tastings, seminars, and champagne brunches. That first year was very successful despite the fact that nearly zero tickets had been sold in advance. In fact, NOWFE made a $6000 profit and disperse $2000 each to three charitable organizations. After a banner first year, the event was moved to the larger venue of the Fairmont Hotel for the next two years.
Over the last several decades NOWFE has grown into an event that annually welcomes more than 7,000 attendees, yet still offers many intimate opportunities to mingle with winemakers, chefs and industry insiders at a plethora or festival events. Adhering to its original mission, NOWFE has contributed more than $1.5 million to local non-profit organizations, and continues to provide a one-of-a-kind experience for wine and food lovers.