Lifestyle & Parenting

Van Wine Fest Saluts Canada’s 150th

January 10, 2017

On January 10th tickets went on sale for the Vancouver International Wine Festival. Featuring more than 180 wineries from around the globe, this year’s event is BIG, bringing a vibrancy to Vancouver’s rainy February that parallels the powers of Champagne. What makes this particular edition special though, is the placement of Canadian wines in the limelight, from B.C. right across to Nova Scotia. It is of no coincidence that we are celebrating Canada’s 150th Birthday this year. Canadian pride is fuelling the beats to my excited heart.

vancouver international wine festival

With such a big festival come a lot of fast-and-hard decisions. Feeling overwhelmed? Here are a few tips on tackling this enormous weeklong, citywide wine adventure:

tickets. At $495 the Gold Pass might seem like a bit of a splurge but, if you’re planning on immersing yourself in this week of gourmandizing, it is a must-buy, Think of it as the fast-pass at Disneyland: with choice entry into multiple tastings, trade events and parties, spaced throughout the week (day and night), priority access to the rooms means no lines up for you! On a budget? No worries, just purchase your tickets to on a per-event basis!

If you’re interested in learning about wines, focus on seminar events like the B.C. Pioneers & New Kids ($50) at VCC West. Hosted by Vancouver wine icons DJ Kearney and Kurtis Kolt, you’ll learn specifically about B.C. wineries, producers and who’s leading the pack into our wine future. Feeling affable? Attend the Wine Minglers to peruse samples and food tidbits and meet and greet with other wine-fanciful people. The wine dinners also promise a more social nature, with a focus on wine/food pairings (but I recommend bringing a date!).

Want to just wander freely and drink from the plentiful drops of hundreds of national and international wines? Hit the main tasting event on Thursday to save a few dollars (versus the weekend crowd), and don’t forget to purchase ahead of time (early bird is always a few $ less than at-the-door). The crowds will form quickly, so grab a map, plan a route and hit your faves first. I’ve recommended a few must-sees below—and don’t forget to spit at least some of those savoury sips, or you’ll never make it to Day 9!

wineries. On my personal list of Canadian wineries to check out: Benjamin Bridge from the Gaspereau Valley in Nova Scotia, which makes world-class sparkling wines (though my heart is always lost to its revered and always-sold-out Nova 7). Also, Tantalus, known for its Riesling and for being the first LEED-certified winery in B.C. The release of its 2014 Chardonnay is outstanding, and worth waiting in line for.

Among the up-and-comers: Fort Berens Estate Winery, which was the first to set roots in Lillooet—a new landscape of terroir that is paving a bright future for B.C wines. Internationally speaking, my picks include Montes Wines, pioneers in Chilean winemaking (hopefully their super-icon Taita will be available for a taste) and, from Australia, Alpha Box & Dice. Experimental and outside of the box, do not let the playful nature of this alphabet-inspired project lead you into thinking the wines are anything less than superb. If you want more than a sip, snag a ticket to their winery dinner at Chambar Restaurant on the closing Sunday of the festival.

Finally, if you need a refreshing break from the world of grapes (is this even possible?) hit up the Artisan SakeMaker from Granville Island. Smooth, clean and crisp, sake is liquid white gold in your mouth.

See you at the festival! And make sure you give Shane Taylor, wine director of CinCin, a high five for winning this year’s Best Sommelier in B.C. competition! —Laura Starr


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