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Vancouver International Wine Festival

Wine Glass and Festival Crowds

The Vancouver International Wine Festival is a major food and wine event featuring wineries from around the world and various Vancouver venues in February.

In 2021 the event runs from February 20th to the 28th and the special feature wine region is South Africa.


This article features information about the following topics:

2020 Festival | 2020 Wineries | About the Festival | Admission Prices | Festival Events | Bacchanalia Gala | Trade Days Conference | Tasting Room Events | Other Festival Events | Tips & Advice | Other Information

Click on any of the above topic links to jump to specific information, or continue reading to learn all about the festival.


Vancouver Wine Festival in 2020

The Vancouver International Wine Festival takes place in the early spring each year and features around 1500 wines from 15 or so countries at close to 6 dozen events over the course of the festival. In a typical year close to 25,000 attendees participate.

Each year the festival has a special focus on a different wine growing region of the world. In 2017 it was Canada, in 2018 the Iberian Peninsula (i.e., Spain and Portugal), in 2019 California, and in 2020 France. In 2021 the featured region will be South Africa.

Celebrating its 43rd anniversary, the 2021 Vancouver International Wine Festival will feature wine from 15 or so countries and over 160 different wineries. In 2020 the featured region was France and about one quarter of participating wineries at the festival were from that country. In 2021 there will be an extra number of South African participants.


Click Vancouver Wine Festival for the event’s official website.


France at VIWF 2020
VIWF 2020 with France as the featured region

2020 Festival Wines & Wineries

In 2020 the featured region was France which was represented by 43 wineries (out of the 164 total at the event). This last year the spotlight was on rosé wine.

Wines from other countries are of course featured too. Participating countries and the numbers of their wineries in 2020 were as follows: France (43), Canada (33), Italy (24), USA (17), Spain (9), Australia (7), Portugal (6), New Zealand (5), Argentina (4), Croatia (4), Germany (4), Chile (3), Romania (2) and Uruguay (1).

There were also a couple of Sake (i.e., rice wine) makers from Japan participating in 2020. 2021 regions and numbers will be similar.

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About the Wine Festival

The Vancouver International Wine Festival is an event that exists to (1) educate and entertain the public with wine experiences, (2) promote the wine industry, and (3) financially support Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Theatre.

The festival is an impressive event. From humble beginnings in 1979, it has grown to become, arguably, Canada’s best and most prestigious wine show. It’s also one of the largest and oldest wine festivals on the planet.

The festival features some 50 or so events each year, of which about 40 are open to the public and another dozen or so for people in the wine, wine-related and hospitality industries.

Around four dozen hotels and restaurants participate each year, and 150+ wineries serve over 1400 wines. To give you an idea about the scale of the event, 42,000 bottles of wine are typically opened and/or purchased annually at the festival.

For a list of participating wineries in 2020, click Festival Participants.

Sampling Wines at the Festival
Wine Samples at the Festival

Admission Prices

Tickets to events at the Vancouver International Wine Festival range from about $50 to $525 or so. Prices include wine, of course, and food when it is a food event. Also included in the price though are tips, taxes and service charges.

Tickets are generally purchased for individual events, but Gold Passes are also available. In 2020, for $519 (and with a $768 value), Gold Pass holders got a badge that entitled them to the International Festival Tastings events, admission to the Festival Toast VIP Reception on the Thursday, and access to the Delta Air Lines Tasting Lounge on the Friday and Saturday.

Tickets for the general public for the 2020 event go on sale in January each year and by mid-February most events have typically already sold out. Click Wine Festival Tickets for further details.

All ticket prices include wine samples, taxes, tips and other service charges. Admission prices also include food at food-related events.


Click Vancouver Wine Festival for the event’s official website.


Wine Festival Events

The nine-day wine festival features a number of events including the Bacchanalia Gala Dinner, Trade Days Conference, International Festival Tastings, wine seminars, winery dinners, wine parties, the Delta Air Lines Tasting Lounge and more. Not all events sell out every year, but most do!

Seven out of the nine days of the festival are open to the general public. All nine days, including the first two, are open to participants in the wine and hospitality industries.

The Vancouver International Wine Festival features numerous food and wine-tasting events. Some of the most popular are listed below. For more details see our article about 2020 Wine Festival Events or see the official VIFF website at vanwinefest.ca.

Christopher Gaze at Bacchanalia Reception
Bard Founder Christopher Gaze at Bacchanalia Gala

Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction

February 22, 2020

The Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction is a grand event that sells out early every year. The black tie affair takes place at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver at 900 West Georgia Street and cost $525 per person in 2020. It’s one of Vancouver’s premier evenings of the year.

The evening includes a fancy 5-course dinner with wine pairings, live music and dancing.

At the event the live and silent auctions generate over $225,000, and, in 2020, the raffle for two Delta Air Lines tickets raised an additional $20,000. That means a quarter of a million dollars raised at the gala, from which the net proceeds benefit the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.

Click Bacchanalia Gala Dinner for more information.


Click Vancouver Wine Festival for the event’s official website.


Trade Days Conference

February 26 to 28, 2020

The Trade Days Conference takes place over three days during the festival and is open to people in the wine, hotel and restaurant industries. The Conference features seminars, networking events and access to a few extra wines not available at festival events open to the general public.

The Trade Days Conference usually run on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the festival and comprise about a dozen of the festival’s over 50 events. In a typical year as many as 7000 people attend.

Wine Fans at the Wine Festival
Having Fun at the Wine Festival Tasting Room

The Tasting Room

February 27 to February 29, 2020

The main attraction at the Vancouver International Wine Festival is the Tasting Room which features over 750 wines at four International Festival Tastings events.

This last year the International Festival Tastings took place at the following times and prices.

  • Thursday, February 27, from 7 to 10 pm ($95)
  • Friday, February 28, from 7 to 10 pm ($105)
  • Saturday, March 1, from 2:30 to 5 pm ($95)
  • Saturday, March 1, from 7 to 10 pm ($115)

The Tasting Room events all take place in Ballroom C at the Vancouver Convention Centre‘s VCC West location at 1055 Canada Place. A few years ago they had a special focus on wines from Spain and Portugal, a couple of years ago the focus was California and this past year it was France. In 2021, the featured region is South Africa.

The four International Festival Tastings are usually all pretty much identical, although the Thursday event is typically the least crowded and the one on Saturday afternoon is half an hour shorter. Prices for each also vary slightly.

Click International Festival Tastings for more information.

Wine Sampling at the Festival

Other Events at the Festival

Other popular events at the Vancouver International Wine Festival include the Delta Air Lines Tasting Lounge and various wine seminars, dinners and parties.

This past year the Delta Air Lines Tasting Lounge took place at two times: on the Friday and Saturday of February 28 and 29 from 5:45 until 9 pm. Tickets for these cost $200-$210 and they included admission to the above-mentioned International Festival Tastings on the same nights. The tasting lounges offer a few additional wines, extra food, more comfortable seating and an escape from the general crowds. 2021 details will be similar.

About 10 different wine seminars also take place over the course of the Wine Festival each year. Prices range from around $70 to $125 and each features different wines, moderators and panelists. They provide exceptional opportunities to learn about wine.

Over a dozen different winery dinners also happen with prices ranging from around $145 to $225 per person, not including the Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction headliner event for which tickets are about $525.


Click Vancouver Wine Festival for the event’s official website.


Vancouver Wine Workshop Attendees
Wine Tasting Seminar

Tips and Advice

Below are some tips and suggestions to help you make the most out of your experience at the Vancouver International Wine Festival.

TIP #1: If you’re a wine enthusiast and can afford the tickets, go! It’s not every city that hosts one of the continent’s most prestigious wine festivals! It’s a great event!

TIP #2: Reserve your tickets early. Popular events can sell out weeks in advance!

TIP #3: Make a note of which wines you like so you can remember them for another time. You’ll get to sample many, so don’t forget which ones are your favourites!

TIP #4: The International Festival Tastings at the Convention Centre are the festival’s main events. Book your tickets to these extra early. Also, if you can, go to the one on the Thursday evening as it’s the least crowded and will offer the best opportunity for chatting with the vendors.

TIP #5: Wines are available for sale at the Wine Shop at the four International Festival Tastings events. Just don’t forget to plan in advance how to carry all your purchases home afterwards!

TIP #6: There are always great food samples at the International Festival Tastings. You still need to eat before you go, but there is a nice selection of gourmet items to try. One of our favourite treats at the event are the samples at ARC Iberico Imports. This local company specializes in Spanish meats and delicacies and they attend the International Festival Tastings most years.

ARC Iberico at VIWF
ARC Iberico at the International Tastings

Other Information

For more information about the wine festival click Vancouver International Wine Festival.

Other smaller but also very fine wine festivals in the Lower Mainland include the following:

For a list of other things to do in the Lower Mainland, check out any of the following: