Running from February 23 to March 3 in 2019, the Vancouver International Wine Festival is a food and wine event featuring wineries from around the world.
This article features information about the following topics:
2019 Festival | 2019 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 2019
The Vancouver International Wine Festival takes place in the early spring each year and features over 1500 wines from 15 or so countries at more than a dozen events over the course of the festival. In a typical year close to 25,000 people participate.
Each year the festival has a special focus on a different wine growing region of the world. In 2016 it was Italy, in 2017 it was Canada and in 2018 the featured region was the Iberian Peninsula.
Celebrating its 41st anniversary, the 2019 Vancouver International Wine Festival features wine from 15 countries and 160 different wineries. In 2019 the featured region is California and about one third of participating wineries are from that state.
2019 Festival Wines & Wineries
In 2018 Spain was represented by over three dozen wineries and Portugal by 20. Being the featured region for the year, this meant that wineries from the Iberian Peninsula got their own special area at the International Festival Tastings events, plus there was an extra abundance of Spanish and Portuguese foods.
In 2019 the featured region is California which is represented by 53 different wineries (out of the 160 total at the event).
Wines from other countries are of course featured too. Participating countries and the numbers of their wineries in 2019 are as follows: Argentina (6), Australia (10), Chile (2), Croatia (4), France (9), Germany (3), Italy (19), New Zealand (5), Portugal (2), Romania (2), Spain (5), Uruguay (1) and the United States (58).
There are also a couple of Sake (i.e., rice wine) makers from Japan participating in 2019.
Canada is also well represented in 2019 by 31 wineries, mostly from BC, plus one Sake distillery from Granville Island.
TIP: Make a night out of your Vancouver International Wine Festival experience and stay a night at a downtown hotel. StayVancouverHotels.com is a proud sponsor of the event and offers exceptional deals.
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 on the planet.
The festival features some 50 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 wineries in 2019, click Festival Participants.
Tickets to events at the Vancouver International Wine Festival range from about $40 to $450. Prices include wine, of course, and food when it’s 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. Last year, for $495 (and with a $721 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, plus a couple of other perks.
Tickets for the general public for the 2019 event go on sale in January. Click Wine Festival Tickets for further details.
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.
Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction
February 23, 2019
The Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction is a grand event that sells out early every year. The black tie event takes place at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver at 900 West Georgia Street and last year cost about $450 per person. It’s one of Vancouver’s premier evenings of the year and partial proceeds benefit the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.
The evening includes a fancy 5-course dinner with wine pairings, live music and dancing.
Click Bacchanalia Gala Dinner for more information.
Trade Days Conference
February 27 to March 1, 2019
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.
In 2019, the Trade Days Conference runs on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the festival and comprises about a dozen of the festival’s over 50 events. In a typical year as many as 7000 people attend.
The Tasting Room
February 28 to March 2, 2019
The main attraction at the Vancouver International Wine Festival is the Tasting Room which features over 750 wines at four International Festival Tastings events.
In 2019 the International Festival Tastings take place at the following times and prices:
- Thursday, February 28, from 7 to 10 pm ($89-$99)
- Friday, March 1, from 7 to 10 pm ($99-$109)
- Saturday, March 2, from 2:30 to 5 pm ($84-$94)
- Saturday, March 2, from 7 to 10 pm ($109-$119)
Compared to last year, prices are between around $5 and $10 more. First prices listed above are for tickets purchased in advance. Second prices listed above are what tickets cost at the door (assuming they haven’t already all sold out).
The Tasting Room events all usually take place in Ballroom C at the Vancouver Convention Centre‘s VCC West location at 1055 Canada Place. Last year they had a special focus on wines from Spain and Portugal, and in 2019 the focus is California.
The four International Festival Tastings are 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.
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.
In 2019 the Delta Air Lines Tasting Lounge takes place at two times: on the Friday and Saturday of March 1 and 2 from 5:45 until 9 pm. Tickets for these cost $199-$209 and they include admission to the above-mentioned International Festival Tastings on the same nights. The tasting lounges simply offer a few additional wines, extra food, more comfortable seating and an escape from the general crowds.
About 10 different wine seminars also take place over the course of the Wine Festival each year. Prices range from around $65 to $145 and each features different wines, moderators and panelists.
An example of a wine seminar in 2019 was the Rhône Around the World event which featured a dozen wines made from Rhône grapes. The sold-out event featured eight red and four white wines, a panel of representatives from the various participating wineries, and participants sitting at rows of tables in a classroom-like setting.
The Rhône Around the World event in 2019 cost $80, ran for about 90 minutes and showcased 2 BC wines, 3 Australian, 1 Californian, 4 French, 1 Spanish and 1 from Washington State with dates ranging from 2011 to 2017. Seminars like this don’t typically include food but do feature plenty of commentary using words like “depth”, “palate” and “robust”, as well as phrases like “incredibly complex” and “ages beautifully.”
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 $450 or so.
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!
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 lots, so don’t forget which ones were 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!
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:
- Harrison Uncorked – a wine festival at Harrison Hot Springs in April.
- Tri-City International Wine Festival – at the Westwood Plateau Golf Club in Coquitlam (early November).
For a list of other things to do in the Lower Mainland, check out any of the following:
- Vancouver’s February and March calendars
- Vancouver’s Festivals & Events Calendar
- Lower Mainland Wineries
- Vancouver’s Best Restaurants