by Daenna Van Mulligen

Described as “the largest event of its kind in the Americas” and “Canada’s premier wine show.”

T he wine world returns to Vancouver from February 24 to March 3, 2024. Celebrating its 45 th year, the annual Vancouver International Wine Festival (VIWF) is a moveable feast of wine, food and culture. Described as “the largest event of its kind in the Americas” and “Canada’s premier wine show,” the VIWF continues to entice some of the globe’s top producers who revel in sharing their wares with eager trade and consumer attendees participating in the week’s 40 unique events. Italy Takes Centre Stage This year, roughly half of the anticipated 150 wineries attending will be from the theme region of Italy. With Italy being the centre of attention, the wine festival welcomes Filippo Bartolotta as its keynote speaker. Bartolotta, who lives in Florence, Tuscany, has been in the wine business for 25 years. Today he is a wine educator and speaker and the Italian correspondent for The Drinks Business —a European wine, spirits and beer trade publication. Bartolotta hopes to share his enthusiasm for his homeland. “Italy has been at the centre of wine production for a few thousand years. Italy isn’t one country but rather a puzzle of many cultural and geographical identities, which go from the southernmost locations near

Africa…all the way up to the Alps close to Austria.” He continues, “The geological and climatic matrix is mesmerizing and the result in the glass today is reflecting these extraordinary differences.” With over 300 Italian wines being poured this year, we will undoubtedly get a solid sense of what Bartolotta is referring to. Events to Educate & Entertain The dazzling Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction, which launches at the opening of festival week on February 24, is the jewel in the wine festival crown, but the most highly anticipated and attended events are the International Festival Tastings in the Tasting Room at the Vancouver Convention Centre (VCC). More than 700 wines will be available to sample over three days. Aside from a strong presence from Italy, Canada and the United States, attendees will also be able to taste wines from Spain, France, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Croatia, Greece and Japan. Additionally, decadent wine-paired dinners, lunches, brunches and more casual minglers will be peppered across city venues, while seated wine seminars will take place at the VCC. Harry Hertscheg, VIWF’s executive director elaborates, “Out-of-province winery principals, sommeliers and other trade professionals

attending the wine festival often remark how supportive and engaged our wine community is. Since 1979, VIWF has evolved in collaboration with hospitality communities, passionate volunteers and wine lovers, BCLIQUOR and our charitable partner—originally the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company and now Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival… Our province’s strong, knowledgeable wine culture is the outcome.” New & Unique Wines If you’re a regular VIWF attendee, Hertscheg wants you to know you’re still in for a treat: “Year in and year out, and again this year, over a quarter of the participating wineries are new to the wine festival, and about three-quarters of the wines available in the Tasting Room are not regular listed products. So, if you’re looking to discover and taste unique wines you’ve never tried before, VIWF is your best opportunity.” “And just when you thought it couldn’t get better, all the wines are available for sale at the on-site BCLIQUOR store and can be shipped to your local store anywhere in the province at no charge. So much to get excited about!” Advance tickets for the VIWF go on sale on Wednesday, November 15, followed by tickets for the winery dinners, which will be available on Wednesday, January 3. Tickets for all remaining public events go on sale on Wednesday, January 10.



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