Playhouse Wine Festival – A Filtered Look Back


It’s hard to believe that the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival ended less than 2 weeks ago. Principals are long since home, tens of thousands of bottles recycled and livers recovered. As for me, my pages tasting notes have been filed away and my impressions, leesy and cloudy during the crush of the festival, have filtered out and clarified.

So what did I take away from the 34th annual VPIWF? A few themes as focussed as Mosel Riesling stand out:

1 – Chile’s whites are worthy of much more attention and credit. The fruit intensity that comes with a sunny climate married with the refreshing acidity that comes with altitude equals great possibilities for Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

2 – Biodynamics can’t be disregarded as black magic. Just because science can’t quantify, justify or qualify biodynamic practices doesn’t mean it’s not real. Why not treat your vines with the same care as your food (green slime burger, anyone?). Also to note – biodynamics and organics can’t be practiced everywhere that grapes are grown. It’s a giant planet with immeasurable climate and soil combinations, and what works for growers in one region might not work in another.

3 – The pendulum has swung. Graceful, lighter reds with structure and finesse like Cru Beaujolais, Rioja and Chianti are where it’s at. The rose revolution is still singing strong. Shining examples are food friendly, of moderate alcohol and celebrate modernity and moderation.

4 – Vancouver is one of the most wine-savvy, sommelier-supportive, food-fervent cities in the world, and we should recognize it and not take it for granted (like icewine, ok?)



I’m already eagerly planning for next year, the 35th year of bringing the wine world to Vancouver, the theme region of California and the global focus of Chardonnay. There were a few scary moments when it was announced on March 9 that the Playhouse Theatre Company was bankrupt and closing its doors immediately. Fortunately, the Playhouse Wine Festival is a separate entity, and is standing strongly on its own. From the official press release:

In light of today’s news about the Playhouse Theatre Company winding down operations, the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival would like to assure the public that the Festival itself will carry on.

“The Wine Festival has flourished in its relationship with the Playhouse Theatre Company and we are saddened by today’s news,” says Wine Festival Board Chair Randy Kaardal. “However, the Wine Festival is a separate society and will continue in staging one of the city’s premier Festivals with our industry partners. We look forward to hosting a successful and vibrant Festival for our patrons in 2013.”


Vibrant and successful indeed – I’ll toast to that. Cheers to all the organizers, volunteers, staff and associated VPIWF venues for their hard work and dedication to the festival – one of the top wine events in the world.


The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival  is one of North America’s largest and greatest celebrations of wine. In 2011 the theme country is Chile and the focus is Cabernet(s). EAT was on site for the whole week, with daily posts, DRINKs, tweets and updates live from the festival.

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 ...

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