Top 5 Can’t-Miss Events at the 2013 Vancouver Wine Fest

Photo by Dave Niddrie, courtesy of Vancouver International Wine Festival

Tickets have just gone on sale for the 35th Vancouver International Wine Fest.  For a full week (Feb. 25-March 3), the city will be awash in wine tastings and wine-paired dinners, lunches and brunches.  The focus this year is on those delicious California wines from south of the border, with a special highlight on everyone’s favourite white wine, Chardonnay.

The Wine Fest is jam-packed with 55 different events that draw some 25,000 attendees.  The most popular events tend to sell out fast, scooped up by Vancouver’s resident oenophiles.  While tickets are still available, here’s a quick look at 5 can’t-miss events this year.

International Festival TastingsThe uncontested highlights of the festival, these gala tastings featuring 176 wineries from 15 different countries are held in the waterfront Vancouver Convention Centre.  Thousands of guests pack the enormous ballrooms to sip and savour some 767 different wines, in an atmosphere that feels more like one big party than an ordinary wine tasting.  Vancouver Convention Centre.  Feb. 21, March 1, March 2; 7 p.m-10 p.m. $95

25 Under $25: Consistently one of the festival’s most popular events, this tasting puts the spotlight on the best value wines on the market: bargain bottles for $25 or less that please even the most discerning of palates.  Hosted by The Province newspaper’s “Wine Guy,” this event is held in the ritzy, retro confines of District 319, a renovated Asian movie house on Main Street.  District 319. March 2; 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. $49.  

California Cruisin’For a taste of the best California has to offer, head to this laid-back, club-style wine mingler in Yaletown.  Against a backdrop of music and funky entertainment, sample from 20 different California wineries, while enjoying California-themed tapas.  Brix Restaurant and George Ultra Lounge. Feb. 26; 8:30 p.m.-11 p.m. $59.  

Photo by Dave Niddrie, courtesy of Vancouver International Wine Festival

Vintner’s Brunch: As true epicures know, the best time for a glass or two of bubbly or wine is over brunch.  This swish event pairs food from some of Vancouver’s best restaurants (Joe Fortes, Lift, Raincity Grill, Salmon House, Fraiche and more) with fantastic wines from around the world.  Guests visit different tasting stations, collecting small delectable plates paired with exquisite glasses, while hobnobbing with celebrity chefs and wine personalities.  There’s even a chance to get out on the dance floor . . . should all those grapes go to your head.  Vancouver Convention Centre.  March 3; 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. $139.  

Canadian Wine Dinner Awards: Canada’s best wines from coast to coast – selected from thousands of entries by Wine Access Magazine – are highlighted at this unique grazing  event at Edible Canada on waterfront Granville Island.  Distinctly Canadian eats are paired with 2012 Canadian Wine Award winners – a rare treat for fans of hard-to-find  Canadian wines.  Edible Canada at the Market. Feb. 27; 7 p.m.-9:30 p.m. $99.  

Planning to go to any other can’t-miss events at the Vancouver International Wine Fest? Let us know below.

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