Canada turns 150 next year and the Vancouver International Wine Festival (VIWF) has invited the wine world to the party. And the wine world has responded: the 2017 festival will feature more than 100 international wineries and about 75 Canadian wineries at Canada’s premier wine show. The Canadian lineup includes wineries from British Columbia, Ontario and, for the first time, Nova Scotia. The 39th annual VIWF takes place February 11 to 19 and features a projected 1,600 wines from 16 countries; the theme is The Wine World Celebrates Canada. The winery lineup will be announced in the fall.
“We’re looking forward to showcasing the largest selection of Canadian wineries ever assembled at an international wine festival,” said executive director Harry Hertscheg. “With over 175 attending wine stars and winery principals, along with national and international media and buyers, VIWF 2017 will be an unprecedented opportunity for Canada to understand its place in the wine world, both as a long-time importer and an emerging exporter of premium wines.”
Canada’s sesquicentennial is the perfect time to celebrate Canada’s growing importance in the wine world, not just as a producer of world-class wines, but as a key market for international wineries. The 12th VINEXPO study, World Wine and Spirits Market with an Outlook to 2018, noted that Canada is the world’s seventh largest wine market, valued at US$6.1 billion, and should grow by 10.4 percent by 2018. In 2014, Canada became the world’s sixth largest wine importer at 32.7 million cases. Import consumption is expected to increase by 4.1 percent to reach 16.4 litres per adult in 2018, said VINEXPO. And Canadians purchase high-value wines: Canada is the world’s fourth largest wine importer in sales value (Global Trade Atlas, 2013). British Columbia’s wine market tops $1 billion.
The Vancouver International Wine Festival reflects and helps drive these trends. Festivalgoers spend $2,291 annually on wine, which is nine times the BC average according to StatsCan. The average price of wines purchased at the onsite BC Liquor Store is $30.
In addition to the tasting room that features all participating wineries pouring well over 800 wines to consumers and trade, VIWF offers some 50 special events including a gala auction, winery dinners, grazing lunches, wine parties, tutored tastings and trade-specific events, including an industry symposium (see Festival Overview PDF). Event themes include cool-climate wines, sparkling wine, iconic wines from iconic places, and a focus on Riesling and Pinot Noir varietals. Advance tickets to the tasting room go on sale November 1 at reduced rates; all public events go on sale January 10.
A key part of VIWF is the 10-event Trade Days Conference on February 15, 16 and 17 for wine and fine dining professionals. For the past three years, Trade Days has been named “#1 Food, Wine & Hospitality Industry Event in Canada” by New York’s BizBash Top 100 Events. Trade Days passes go on sale December 1; all trade events go on sale January 17.
The Vancouver International Wine Festival is Canada’s premier wine show and widely considered to be one of the top wine festivals in the world. Founded in 1979, it’s also one of the oldest and, at 25,000 admissions, one of the biggest.
“It’s amazing. It’s the best-run festival in the world. I hold this festival up as a paragon of what could happen around the world,” said Brian Lynn, proprietor of Australia’s Majella Wines, during the 2016 festival.
Howard Soon, master winemaker at Sandhill in the B.C. Okanagan, said, “It’s great to be at Vancouver International Wine Festival. We’re invited to attend, and are arrayed against all the best wines in the world on an equal playing field. People can compare our wines to those from around the world, and that’s a special privilege to me. [This festival] is respectful of the wine. That’s what I see here.”