One Week to Go: Countdown to Wine Fest + Treve’s Tips

One Week To Go: Countdown to Vancouver International Wine Festival + Treve’s Tips

Just 6 more sleeps.

The 36th Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival kicks off next Saturday, February 22 with the grandest way possible, Champagne. The Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction, one of the swishest fundraising events of the year, opens with a Champagne reception and is followed by a gastro-extravagant dinner at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. It’s a particularly fitting opening act for VIWF, with Bubbly being this year’s Global Topic; and proceeds from the evening’s wine and travel auction benefit the festival’s theatrical charity partner, Bard on the Beach. The bedecked ballroom is a who’s-who of wine collectors, visiting principals and gourmands – but don’t let that stop you, they let wine-passionate folks like me in as well (there are a few tickets left – join me!)

Next Saturday will officially kick off my wine fest week too, and I’ll be recapping my top sips, finds and personalities daily again this year here on

There’s a lot to cover. One of North America’s premier wine festival, VIWF runs from February 24 to March 2 at the Vancouver Convention Centre and other venues across the city. The spotlight is on France as the 2014 theme country, with the aforementioned global focus on Bubbly. The festival will feature 178 wineries from 14 countries, attracting 23,000 participants to 54 events over eight days. Tickets for many seminars and dinners have sold out – much faster than in recent years. France and Bubbly are pretty big draws, to be sure, and the line up of events is impressive, even for the jaded wine trade. The VIWF provides a nifty Festival at a Glance map so you can see right away what is still available, and when and where each event takes place.

A tagline of VIWF is “The Wine World is Here”, and it’s true. One thing that makes this week long festival so special is that winery principals, winemakers and personalities make time to attend – pick them out by the royal blue lanyard holding their nametag. These vine stars, some of the biggest names in the biz, not just here to lead seminars and host dinners – though there’s a glorious amount of those. They’re in the tasting room, on the floor, waiting for your questions and wanting your feedback. It’s an incredible opportunity for anyone with even a remote involvement and interest in wine, from keen enthusiasts to professional geeks, like me.

Treve’s VIWF Tips:

  1. Wear comfy shoes. Time flies by in the Tasting Room, and you will be standing the entire time.
  2. Dress the part. No – you needn’t wear a suit and tie (though there will be quiet a few and you won’t be out of place), but you should be dressed smart. No ripped jeans, no yoga wear. Yes, Vancouver, you can.
  3. Taste, taste, taste, taste! If you think you don’t like a certain region or style, head there first and earnestly try to convince yourself otherwise.
  4. Do NOT miss the theme region section (France) and global focus booth (Bubbles). There will be a lot of special wines grouped here, and you are able to compare and contrast and engulf yourself fully.
  5. Spit, spit, spit. Don’t be scared about spitting. It’s a necessary part of the business, everyone dribbles from time to time. If you’re scared about splash back in the buckets on the tables, pick up an extra wine glass on your way in, or bring a disposable cup of your own from you. Voila – your own personal spittoon.
  6. Drink twice the amount of water that you think you’ll need to. There will be water stations around the room. Hydration is key.
  7. Ask questions. They’ve heard them all, believe me, and you don’t have to worry about embarrassing yourself.
  8. Try something new. There are many wines here not normally available for sale on this market, and nd there are many rare and specialty wines in the tasting room that you probably won’t get a chance to try otherwise, so here’s your chance.
  9. Don’t experience buyer’s remorse; Shop The World. Many of the tasting room wines will be available at the BCLDB Onsite Liquor Store (with free bottle check and delivery), and tasting room floor wines with a SHOP THE WORLD neck tag are available for by-the-case purchase right there at the winery table. The case will be delivered to your closest BCLS 2 weeks after the festival. NEW this year, hit up the Principals Bottle Signing Station at the BCLDB store to get your own personalized bottle.
  10. Do not drink and drive. Obviously and end point. BC Liquor Stores offers a free transit ticket at their Get Home Safe booth as you are exiting the shop, taxis are readily available outside the VCC and the entrance to Waterfront SkyTrain station is 300 metres away.

NEW this year, and highly welcome, is a partnership with beVancouver. If you book a room between February 20 and March 9, 2014 at a participating downtown hotel (there are 37 to choose from), and you’ll get ONE FREE TICKET (value up to $89) to your choice of four International Festival Tastings. Book two nights, and you’ll get TWO FREE TICKETS (value up to $178). The popular Saturday night slot has already booked up, but they’ve opened up Saturday afternoon to consumers for the first time, which should become the new popular ticket.

Other recommended open events (as of right now – act quickly):

France Bubbly Party
If The Bacchanalia Gala is a bit too pricey for your Champagne wishes, you can still satisfy and indulge at Tuesday night’s France Bubbly Party. Socialize with producers of Champagne, Crémant and bubbles from across France during this stylish late-night soiree at Ginger 62. There will be oysters. And a DJ. Yup – see you there!

Life of Pie
Tell me what’s better than Saturday lunch with two of Oz’s best exports: wine and pie. Ok – koalas would make it better, but our crop isn’t eucalyptus. 2 dozen wines and Vancouver’s legendary Aussie Pie Guy will make for a fun and tasty roving lunch.

Thursday, Friday & Saturday afternoon International Festival Tasting
The heart of the entire festival; if you attend only one of the festival’s 54 events, make it an International Festival Tasting. You’ll find 780 wines organized by 14 countries, starting with featured country France. Saturday night is sold out, but the newly introduced Saturday afternoon has space left – AND is a cheaper ticket price – $68 vs $89.


For more information and updates on the festival, wines, events and venues, visit and follow VIWF on Twitter at @vanwinefest.


Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

Comments are closed.