In British Columbia we are well known for our wine country: the Okanagan Valley. So it is no surprise that every year Vancouver hosts its very own wine festival. A way to celebrate the bounty of our province, showcase our local products, and to be able to bring together other wineries and wine enthusiasts from all around the world.
This year, “Canada’s premier wine show” ran from February 23 to March 3, 2019. An eight-day celebration of wine and food across 54 events, including lunches, dinners, minglers, wine and food parties, a gala, and educational seminars. You were able to pick and choose between them all, purchasing your ticket accordingly. And this year just about every single one of those events sold out. I didn’t attend many, just my favourite, as documented in this post. If you attend only one event during this annual celebration, I highly suggest it be the tasting room. With 4 different time slots across 3 different days, there were many opportunities to participate in their most popular showcase.
“This year, the spotlight was on California, highlighting 53 wineries from the Golden State”. But in total 160 wineries participated, including ones from Australia, California, Napa Valley, New Zealand, Nova Scotia, South Africa, Spain, and Washington State. 160 wineries from 18 different countries with 1450 different wines representing. And at the “Tasting Room” you were able to try 725 of them from 16 different countries.
The “Tasting Room” at the Vancouver Convention Centre was the heart of the festival. Here we were able to try new wines that have yet to hit market, and exclusive bottles I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. Exciting new wines, some of your favourites, and the ability to purchase what you liked after in their shop. More on this later.
For the vlog recap of my two days tasting, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei for all the fun.
My coverage is across two days. Thursday, was the very first day of the “Tasting Room”,
with a lower attendance; whereas Saturday afternoon was one of the busiest. I am glad I visited both days as three hours really isn’t enough to fully explore what this event is all about. We ended up jumping from booth to booth, targeting ones with shorter lines to maximize our time. Although should we have chosen to, we were able to try every bottle from any booth. The exhibitors were all very cordial, they were all knowledgeable, and most importantly willing to share their offerings.
This event is great for wine enthusiasts. All ticket holders are able to mix and mingle in a room filled with the “stars” of the global wine scene: winemakers, proprietors, and senior execs. They come to Vancouver every year to pour and discuss their wines with all festival goers. And what made the event even more unique was that each winery was represented by a principal, someone closely involved in the wine-production process. This was often the person serving us our sips, with their name literally on the bottle they were pouring it from. These individuals were easy to identify with their name on a royal blue lanyard.
And once you have chatted up a “principal” and have found a bottle you want to take home, you can do so at the on site “BC Liquor Stores: Festival Wine Shop”. A sectioned off corner set with shelves and numerous bottles of wine. Once again, many of which aren’t available at your local liquor store. These were exclusive bottles yet to be released, or limited edition labels only available here this week. But all the wines served in the room were available for purchase. Those who didn’t purchase their desired bottles right away were disappointed. Those who did, took advantage of the event’s free bottle check and wine delivery. When you discovered a wine that you wanted to enjoy at home, buy it then leave it at their handy bottle check service. And then continue your tasting session hand free, repeating the shopping experience as necessary. And when you were ready to leave, you checked out your wines and took them with you. However, if you live in British Columbia, whether you’ve bought one bottle or several cases, your wine could be shipped free of charge to your nearest BC Liquor Store. This was such a convenient service, and a good reason to shop and spend more.
Remembering the scene last year we made sure to eat before each “Tasting Room” round. Those who didn’t found themselves lining up for cubes of cheese, grabbing shards of chocolate, scrounging up slices of meat, and devouring the vegetarian buns that were in limited supply. There was also coffee and ice cream for those who wanted some thing more dessert-like afterwards.
Event organizers suggested pacing yourself and to not swallow everything that is poured in your glass. Spit buckets were available at each booth and more were rotated around the room. I however don’t like spitting, just as much as I don’t like wasting wine. So swirled and swallowed each sip.
All the photos posted in this review are from a few of the winery offerings I found interesting and noteworthy. Like the Riedel booth. There we got a sneak peak of their new “double magnum” glasses, large goblets that fits a whole bottle of wine. They won’t be released until spring, so using it here was a treat. And take it from me, what you drink out of makes a substantial difference when it comes to wine, and these large glasses proved that size matters.
I was equally enamoured by their collection of mouth blown glass decanters. The “boa” was the smaller of the two and beautiful enough to be art when not used to aerate wine. The “Mamba” had a double chamber. It was spill proof to an extent, and was created for the perfect pour.
In short 2019 proved to be another great year for the Vancouver International Wine Festival. And this year’s “Tasting Room” has only gotten me more excited for the years to come. For more details on what you have missed out, visit the link below. And make sure you mark the date on your calendars for the next one in 2020.
Vancouver International Wine Festival Headquarters:
Vancouver Convention Centre West
1055 Canada Place
Vancouver, BC V6C 0C3