The South’s elite chefs* gather annually at the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, where the bourbon flows freely and barbecue smoke wafts over the ever-charming city. We’re somewhat biased, given Food Republic’s annual media sponsorship of events like last year’s Harlem and Hominy Brunch and N. Chas Night Bazaar, but this fest stands out due to the programming, location and a certain je ne sais quoi.

And now it’s time to plan for next year’s Charleston Wine + Food Festival, which will take place March 6-10, 2019. Organizers have just announced a preliminary list of participating chefs including Gavin Kaysen, Jeremiah Bacon, Mike Lata, Michelle Weaver, Vivian Howard, Seamus Mullen, Maneet Chauhan, Steven D. Greene, David and Anna Posey, Nina Compton, Jody Williams and Rita Sodi, and Vishwesh Bhatt.

Programming will be revealed later this month, but two initiatives of note for 2019 are a celebration of International Women’s Day and a focus on wellness. Beyond that, it’s worth paying attention to coming announcements as individually ticketed events for special dinners, cooking classes and regional excursions sell out quickly. Tickets go on sale August 29 at the Charleston Wine + Food Festival website.

“One thing that makes Charleston Wine + Food unique compared to other wine and food festivals, is that we reprogram 85% of our schedule year after year,” says Gillian Zettler, Charleston Wine + Food Festival Executive Director. “There are a few differences that I think you will notice on the 2019 schedule compared to past festivals, including an expanded wellness event series, excursions that offer guests exclusive + unique culinary storytelling experiences with a sense of place, and a renewed focus on diversifying our talent line-up.”

Check out our podcast from the 2018 fest featuring interviews with Mashama Bailey, Linton Hopkins, Maneet Chauhan and Katie Button.

* Indeed, many of the South’s best-known chefs make the annual trip to Charleston for the festival, but as you can see above, it attracts many star chefs from New York City, Chicago and elsewhere.