Week-long Wine Festival Coming to Vancouver, Feb 25-March 3

Photo credit: Dave Niddrie, courtesy of Vancouver International Wine Festival

Photo credit: Dave Niddrie, courtesy of Vancouver International Wine Festival

One of the biggest wine festivals in North America is coming to Vancouver.

The Vancouver International Wine Festival is set to bring 176 wineries from 15 countries to the city from Feb. 25-March 3. Some 25,000 wine lovers are expected to turn out for a full week of wine tastings, dinners, seminars and casual minglers at the Vancouver Convention Centre, as well as restaurants and hotels around the city.

The undisputed highlight of the wine fest, of course, is the one and only International Festival Testing.

For serious oenophiles and casual sippers alike, the massive tasting in the Vancouver Convention Centre – featuring 767 different wines from all over the world – is a must-attend gala.  Thousands of guests – many decked out in suits and cocktail dresses – pack the ballroom for a happening that’s equal parts tasting and party.

After a few hours of swirling and sampling, tipplers are generally in very good spirits and the convention centre takes on the vibe of a packed nightclub. (Note: There’s a very good reason why organizers suggest eating before the event.)  The International Festival Tasting ($95) is held over three consecutive nights, Feb. 28-March 2, 7 p.m.-10 p.m.

Of course, there’s much more to the weeklong wine fest.  More than 50 events fill the schedule this year, from elaborate wine-paired dinners (and lunches and brunches) at the city’s top restaurants to more intimate tastings focused on specific wines and even club-style minglers where you can snack and sip against a backdrop of music and entertainment (Many of these events are selling out fast or already sold out).

The theme region for this year’s fest is none other than our neighbour to the south, California.  63 Californian wineries will showcase complex Pinot Noirs, rich Cab Sauvs, crisp Chardonnays and more from the state’s best wine growing regions, from coast to mountains and desert.

Meanwhile, Chardonnay is also in the spotlight.  The versatile grape – suddenly en vogue once again – can be rich, fruity, buttery or bright in turns.  A master chameleon, Chardonnay ranges from crisp and dry exemplars from France’s Burgundy region to much  more fruity, aggressive incarnations from New World regions like California.

Anyone going to this year’s wine fest? What are your picks for can’t-miss events? 

For more updates on Vancouver and beyond, follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza.  

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