2013 Vancouver International Wine Festival – Exposed – February 25 – March 3, 2013
by the Traveling Gourmand for HelloVancity.com
Just around the corner the 35thÂ Vancouver International Wine Festival begins onÂ Monday, February 25. Running through to Sunday, March 3. An absolute mustÂ for the wine enthusiast. Neophytes and connoisseurs alike can partake of anyÂ number of events being held around the city and at the Vancouver ConventionÂ Centre West and East. Seven days of wines and culinary experiences to delightÂ the senses.
Opening evening of the Festival premieres four Winery Dinners including firstÂ time venue Oru Restaurant at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel. Look for favourite returning Winery Dinners, Minglers, and Grazers throughout the week at BrixÂ Restaurant, Cioppinoâ€™s Mediterranean Grill, The Boathouse at Kitâ€™s Beach,Â Hawksworth Restaurant, West Restaurant, CinCin Ristorante, and EdibleÂ Canada at the Market.
Ever popular Grazing lunches and afternoon minglers returning this year are:Â Aussie Barbie at the Vancouver Rowing Club; B.C. Paired at ProvenceÂ Marinaside; Dine Italia at La Terrazza; Raise a Glass for Argentina in newÂ venue Lift Bar Grill; and returning venue, new in 2012, A Chardonnay KitchenÂ Party at the Miele Showroom. Ode to this yearâ€™s region, California, enjoy theÂ Savour California Flavour at VCC West.
Finishing off the Winery Dinners and closing the Festival are Gaga for BottegaÂ at Siena Trattoria, Pure Delight! Mission Hill & Brix at Brix Restaurant & WineÂ Bar, and Signorello at Blue Water CafÃ©.
Always popular and sold out are the Sunday brunch events. The Vintnerâ€™sÂ Brunch where you will find some old favourites and a number of newÂ participating restaurants, caterers, and culinary students providing delectableÂ entrees paired with wines from the Festival. My personal fave is Joe Fortes whoÂ never disappoint with their pairings. Missing this year will be Monk McQueenâ€™sÂ which is now closed and rumoured to have been sold to Lift. Hopefully the soughtÂ after oyster bar will be picked up by a new establishment. A slightly more sedateÂ wrap up brunch Flavours of the Festival at the Fairmont Waterfront, this one isÂ equally popular with Festival guests. If you havenâ€™t been before both brunchesÂ are highly recommended.
Bacchanalia Gala Dinner & Auction is in a category all by itself. The main fund raiser of the Festival and one of Vancouverâ€™s most successful events. Always a sellout with good reason.
The basics of the Festival for the few out there who are unfamiliar are as follows: each year a different Regional Theme â€“ 2013 California with the Global FocusÂ Chardonnay. This could be a bit of a challenge with so many wine drinkers falling into the ABC category (anything but Chardonnay) but the Festival has that covered. All About Chardonnay the Thursday, February 28 wine seminar isÂ determined to change your mind about Chardonnay.
Already convinced? For the well heeled wine aficionado I suggest Signorello Padrone Vertical wine seminar at Blue Water CafÃ© and/or Ridge Revealed a Global Focus Seminar at VCC West both featuring high end wines and excellentÂ value.
For something a little different try Meet Your Match a Gismondi wine seminar at VCC West where the â€œspeed datingâ€ concept meets wine tasting.
My recommendations for anyone who thinks they can compete with the big guys and experienced sommeliers is the event that is technically â€œtradeâ€ but welcomes all knowledgeable wine connoisseurs Blind Tasting Challenge at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. This is without question the best value of the Festival.
Looking to smooze with the wine elite? The Gold Pass Tasting Lounge open Friday and Saturday night includes entry to the International Tasting Room as well as the Lounge for a Food & Wine Grazing event. A bargain considering many high end wines that are tasted by the Trade during the day are available exclusively in the Gold Pass Tasting Lounge. Enjoy!
So now weâ€™re down to the most popular and singularly the hottest ticket at the Festival â€“ the International Tasting Room three nights of tasting wines from the International stage. Take note that Thursday fewer tickets are made available making it a little easier to work the room. On the other hand the vibe of the Friday and Saturday nights make for an all out great evening of tasting the very best wines. Tickets $95.
As the Regional Theme California wines will take centre stage and you will find all the California wineries at the north end of the Tasting Room. Just look for the replica Golden Gate Bridge!
Putting on my â€œDebbie downerâ€ hat please, please, please remember a few basicÂ rules when attending any and all of these events: forget the perfumes, colognes, after shave, and scented deodorants. For many of the wine seminars you will also be asked to drink your coffee somewhere other than near or definitely inside the venue. A little etiquette is in order: you will receive one glass, thatâ€™s all you need, donâ€™t grab for a second glass because thatâ€™s rude and not necessary. If youâ€™re worried about mixing whites and reds, donâ€™t be, plan to either enjoy two nights (one white night, one red night) or taste (sip) your whites first. If you donâ€™t like a wine just quietly empty your glass in the bucket provided (one on every table) and by the way DO NOT pour the contents of your wineglass into the bucket held by a volunteer â€“ it splashes! Use only a stationery bucket.Â Take the time to acquaint yourself with the winery (each booth has a sign with the name of the winery) it helps if you know which wine(s) you would like to taste and saves time. The Festival provides a printed guide which will facilitate your tasting experience. Take your turn and once you have received your pour of wine, step back and allow others an opportunity to approach the table.
Whether you attend only one function or you splurge for a VIP Gold Pass to take in all the Festival has to offer â€œsipâ€ responsibly and courteously. A coat check is available for your convenience and transit passes are free making it easy to plan for your ride home at the end of the evening.
The Vancouver International Wine Festival supports Bard on the Beach Theatre Society and runs on volunteer benevolence.
If you love wine, know wine, are getting to know wine, or a first time attendee you are about to experience the best Wine Festival in North America. If you donâ€™t believe me just try Googling â€œtop rated wine festivalsâ€. Number one for a reason.
2013 Vancouver International Wine Festival
767 wines â€¢ 176 wineries â€¢ 15 countries
Date:Â February 25 – March 3, 2013
PhotoÂ courtesy ofÂ the Vancouver Wine Festival official website