Playhouse Wine Festival 2012 Trade Competition Award Winners

Vancouver Playhouse 2012 Award Winner Luncheon


Rick Cluff, host of CBC’s Vancouver’s Early Edition emceed in usual breezy but precise mode, the 9th Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival Awards. Prior to the ceremony, attendees sipped Chilean wines, and savoured South American influenced dishes including cod ceviche, seafood soup, salmon, pork sliders with guacamole, and shockingly good short ribs on a bed of creamiest corn.


Here’s a run-down of the awards and winners.


Adrien Boisvert from Black + Blue trumped his opponents to win the coveted Puddifoot Award in the seventh annual Art Institute of Vancouver Wine Professional Challenge in which competitors have to rotate around 5 judging stations and speak for 3 minutes on a specified wine-related topic.


This year’s first Blind Tasting Challenge three  awards went to man-in-the-street Brian Glaum for the consumer award and Leah Gamache of Chambar for culinary professional, Having worked with Lesley Anne Saito (Legacy Liquor Store). it was good to see her diligence and passion pay off with the trade accolade.


Armed with barbed wit and banter Boneta’s Neil Ingram and Wine Educator DJ Kearney took over the podium to present Vancouver Magazine-sponsored Wine List Awards.


The awards, however, are no joke. According to DJ, a lot of “caffeine and muffins are scarfed down as we spend grueling hours mulling over lists”.


Back in 1991 I recall CinCin, the second to open in Top Table Group of restaurants, turned Vancouver’s restaurant wine lists on their grapey heads. Well thought out and well categorized, it pioneered lists toward careful global selections and extensive wine-by-the the glass programs. Twenty-one years later CinCin and other noted TT restaurants still triumph. Blue Water Café and West won platinum, while  CinCin and Whistler’s Araxi garnered gold. Hardly surprising were platinum medals granted to Cioppino’s and Hotel Georgia’s Hawksworth whose head sommelier and wine director Terry Threlfall returned from a four-year stint abroad to nail Sommelier Of The Year honours.


Other gold (and silver) award winning venues included L’Abbatoir, Cork and Fin, Brix, Nicli Antica Pizza and Edible Canada at the Market


Folks were up on their feet to applaud Richard Carras, this year’s Spirited Industry Professional (SIP). Via video, friends and colleagues praised Rick’s thorough professionalism. But it is Rick’s reputation for watching the other guy’s back for what I think, clinched his award. A key founder of the BC Hospitality Foundation, formed in 2006, ( Rick came to the aid of long-time wine agent and friend Michael Willingham, who had suffered a massive stroke. Through a major fundraiser, and other avenues, the foundation supported Michael’s prohibitive medical expenses. From this first cause was established a trust fund for those in the foodservice, beverage, and hospitality industries who need financial help while coping with severe illness or accident. Rick’s recognition is well overdue and for me was the highlight of the awards lunch.


For complete details on award winners go to








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