40th Vancouver International Wine Festival serves up 82,000 wine glasses; 43,000 bottles of wine

Vancouver’s annual wine lovers’ delight, but dishwashers’ nightmare, is well underway. The 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival, which, according to keynote speaker Paul Wagner of California, is “the largest wine festival in the Western Hemisphere”, is in full swing around town. It’s a great week for wine and food lovers, but not so much for those who have to deal with 82,000 wine glasses by the time the festival wraps up on Sunday. To say nothing of countless plates, cups and cutlery.

By March 4, a projected 25,000 wine lovers will have sniffed, swirled and sipped from a selection of 1,450 wines from 16 countries at 51 events. In total, festivalgoers will have sampled from or stocked their cellars with some 43,000 bottles of wine.

VanWineFest is headquartered at the Vancouver Convention Centre, which is the site of the Tasting Room, the 53,000 square foot hub of the festival with its stunning views of the harbour and mountains, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It is home to four International Festival Tastings and two Trade Tastings, presented by ContainerWorld. Dinners and other events are hosted by top restaurants and hotels throughout the city. Most of the 12 events in Trade Days Conference, the wine business part of the show, also take place at VCC. Trade events are available only to those in the hospitality and wine industry and registration is required.

Most events are sold out. The exceptions include one consumer seminar, Torres: History Builds Future, which only has a handful of tickets remaining as of writing, and the aforementioned Trade Tastings.

VanWineFest by the numbers

  • 40th annual (founded 1979)
  • 8 days (Bacchanalia Gala Feb 24; festival week Feb 26-March 4)
  • 25,100 admissions in 2017* (96% of all available tickets were sold)
  • 16 countries
  • 173 wineries
  • 51 events, including tastings, seminars, winery dinners, minglers, lunches, brunch and more
  • 26 venues
  • ~ 50 participating restaurants, hotels, caterers
  • 1,450+  wines, including
    • 750+ at International Festival Tastings
    • 155 additional wines at Trade Tastings
    • 540+ at special events (dinners, seminars, etc.)
  • 2018 theme: Celebrating Spain & Portugal, with 38 wineries from Spain and 20 wineries from Portugal. Other countries with strong lineups include Canada with 26 producers, of which 25 are from BC and one is from Nova Scotia; USA with 24 producers; Italy with 23; and France with 16.
  • 43,000 bottles sampled and/or purchased
  • 82,000 wine glasses used
  • 450 volunteers
  • Beneficiary: Since 1979, VanWineFest has raised $9 million for the performing arts. Since 2013, proceeds have gone to Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival; the fest contributed $280,000 to Bard in 2017. Last Saturday’s Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction raised $225,000; the total 2018 donation to Bard will be announced at the opening of the 2018 Bard season.

Don’t Wine and Drive

Whether you’re on four wheels or two, festivalgoers are strongly urged to leave them at home.

  • Pick up a free Compass ticketfrom the Get Home Safe booth, courtesy of BC Liquor Stores, as you exit the Tasting Room
  • Or take a cab or a limo– it’s considerably cheaper than having your car towed from a spot check, to say nothing of the other nasty consequences. “Taking a cab home is the cheapest car insurance you can buy,” says Randy Kaardal, past chair of the VIWF board of directors.

The festival closes on Sunday with the always-popular Vintners Brunch, sponsored by the Vancouver Sun. For complete details on the festival, go to www.vanwinefest.ca.

: VanWineFest.ca
Phone: 604-873-3311, toll free 1-877-321-3121 (Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.)
In person: 202-162 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver (Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.); onsite at VCC West on Thursday, March 1 and Friday, March 2, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday, March 3, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Stay in Touch:
For more information, go to VanWineFest.ca and sign up for VanWineFest E-News.
Facebook & Instagram: /VanWineFest
Twitter: follow @VanWineFest for news on tickets and sold-out events. Join the conversation at #VIWF.


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