Savvy Company is proud to be a contributor & participant in the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, being held this year from March 23-29, at the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre.
Over the next few weeks, read my blog as I will be highlighting some of the events from the Festival last year, as well as providing some insights into the themes and events coming up this year. Why not consider a spring trip to Vancouver to attend this outstanding wine event? Debbie and I will be there & we would be happy to help you create your itinerary of events to attend.
Want to try a wine that will be featured at this year's Festival? Coincidentally this wine comes from one of the wineries I visited in Spain in the fall of 2007? Look for Salinas Mo Monastrell ($16.95, LCBO #95133) - one of the Smart Buys recently released by LCBO Vintages on January 10, 2009.
The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival has grown into one of the world’s most prestigious wine events, offering education, tasting and purchase opportunities of interest to the general public, the trade and wine aficionados of all kinds. Winemakers from all over the world return year after year, telling us that they are impressed by the caliber of the event, and the welcome they receive in this beautiful city.
The mandate of the Festival is threefold: to provide informative, educational and entertaining wine experiences for consumers and trade; to act as a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry; and to operate as the primary fundraiser for the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company. Since 1979, it has raised over $5.8 million. In 2008 alone, the organizers saw a record total $559,500 raised at the Bacchanalia Gala Dinner and Auction.
The Festival began as a single-winery event in 1978. I had the opportunity to speak with Darryl Weinbren, President of Authenic Wine & Spirit Merchants. Darryl was invited by John Levine, the founder of the Festival, to join the inaugural committee in 1977. “I had emigrated from South Africa in May of that year, and was working for a wine company. This was a great opportunity for me to meet other people in the industry.” Darryl explained that the first event was a component tasting hosted by Mondavi Winery and led by Michael Mondavi himself. The sold-out event was held over two evenings in the living and dining room of a house on the outskirts of downtown, rented from UBC for the purpose. Says Darryl, “For me, this was a key highlight of the years I spent on the Festival committee. I learned so much about how the palate detects the key components of wine, such as acid, sugar, tannin, etc.”
From these humble beginnings, the Festival committee led the development of the event, transforming it from a single-winery event to the California Wine Festival, and from there to the Pacific Northwest Festival. With a diligent focus on ways to continuously differentiate the event, it has been transformed into its current format, a week-long international event with regional and wine-style themes, as well as a range of tastings, seminars, dinners and competitions. As a measure of the changes that have occurred, Darryl pointed out that in the early days of the Festival, the organizers would take the winery guests on a boat cruise up Indian Arm on Saturday, “as there was nothing else to do. In its current form, the Festival keeps the presenters and winery guests so busy that we barely have a moment with them!” However, as Darryl says, one thing hasn’t changed: “The best of the world have been there, from Robert Mondavi himself to, in 2008, the Marchese Piero Antinori and the Marchese Leonardo Frescobaldi.” Debbie and I experienced and were impressed with this high standard in the seminars, competitions and other events we attended.
In 2007, the 176 wineries selected through a rigorous process poured 701 wines in the tasting room of the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre. A further 899 wines were served at a variety of special events, including wine seminars, trade events, specialty wine and food pairings, and the gala auction. Harry Hertscheg, the Executive Director of the Festival, his small staff and hundreds of volunteers ensured a precise and well-orchestrated execution of this outstanding 8-day event.
The theme region in 2008 was Italy, while the theme wine was Sparkling wine. Debbie and I split the heavy (was that heady!?!) responsibility of participating in the seminars and tastings. While I focused on Vino Italiano, Debbie attended the events pertaining to Sparkling wine.
Log on again to read my next articles, where I’ll tell you a bit about the speakers I heard and the wines I sampled at some of the seminars featuring Italian wines.