top of page

Explore the World of Wine: My Experience at the Vancouver International Wine Festival 2023

Learn about the Vancouver International Wine Festival including their events, the International Festival Tasting and California Wine & Taco Fest, my top wine picks from each event, and tips for your next wine tasting.

Vancouver International Wine Festival - Explore the World of Wine

Hey y'all. I hope you’re enjoying all the warmth and vitamin D that summer brings. This is an archived blog post I’ve been meaning to publish, but haven’t got a chance till now since I’ve been busy on my explorations around Europe, so here it is.

At the end of April, I had the pleasure of being on the media list for the Vancouver International Wine Festival - a week-long annual event where 100s of wineries from across the globe come to Vancouver to give local residents the opportunity to learn about and taste their wines. This is the biggest wine festival in Vancouver where you can experience all that the wine world has to offer. You can attend multiple events throughout the week including seminars, dinners, minglers, lunches, the Bacchanalia Gala Dinner, and of course the International Festival Tasting. With events ranging from $45 to $225, there is an event within everyone’s price range, depending on how extravagant of an event you want to attend (or if you want to attend for FREE, there is a way that I listed under the All In All.. section). This year, I was invited to 2 events: the International Festival Tasting and California Wine & Taco Fest. Here's a synopsis of my experience at these events.

International Festival Tasting

International Festival Tasting - Vancouver International Wine Festival

The International Festival Tasting is the best event to attend if you want to try several wines from all over the world in one place and is one of the highlights of the Festival. This year, they had 147 wineries from 17 countries with the themed region being South America. This was my first time being able to taste many wines from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay. I was excited to be back for my 2nd International Festival Tasting since 2019 when the themed region was France. The main wine varieties available from those regions were Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. There were also some unique varieties like Carmenere, Nebbiolo, and Albariño. In comparison to wines from old world wine countries like France, Spain, Italy, Germany, you’ll find that South American wines are made of similar quality with a more affordable price point - which is a huge benefit to learning about South American wines. Additionally, there was a sparkling wine booth, which I had to check out (of course) and I tasted some wines from countries I'm not as familiar with like Greece and Hungary. On top of that, the food vendors were top-notch. The Arc Iberico Imports booth (my favourite) was giving samples of their finely sliced Iberico jamon, La Grotto de Fromaggio had delicious cheeses and meats, and D’oro Gelato & Café was giving out scoops of their delicious gelato. Overall, this event had fantastic food, great wine, and a full stomach to end the night. The best part of this event is that you can purchase wines that you liked at the end of the tasting. Many wines are not typically available at liquor stores, so it’s a great opportunity to bring home exclusive wines that you can share with friends and family.

Here are my top wine picks from this event:

*Note: this list is not numerical order of most preferred.

  1. Neyen Espiritu de Apalta 2018, Chile

  2. Bodega Garzón Reserva Albariño 2022, Uruguay

  3. Morandé Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Chile

  4. Cono Sur Single Vineyard N°21 Pinot Noir 2021, Chile

  5. Cono Sur Single Vineyard OCIO Pinot Noir 2019, Chile

  6. Majella Wines GPL68 2014, Australia

  7. Lido Prosecco Brut, Italy

  8. Anakena Ona Red Blend 2019, Chile

  9. Anakena Alwa Limited Edition, Chile

  10. Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere 2021, Chile

  11. Valle Del Maule Semillón 2022, Chile

  12. Valle Las Acequais Malbec 2017, Argentina

  13. Santa Ema Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Chile

California Wine & Taco Fest

California Wine & Taco Fest - Vancouver International Wine Festival

For those who prefer a bit more of a chill, casual, mingler-type event – I would recommend this event for future Vancouver Wine Festivals. Here, you can enjoy wines from 15 Californian wineries with delicious tacos at The Pipe Shop in North Vancouver. The most popular wine varietals were Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. There were also a few Zinfandels and red and white blends available. Plus, 5 different tacos were being served, but they did run out of tacos halfway through the event, so I prioritized the food before the wine. What I loved about this event was that you could take your time at each booth to learn about the story behind each wine and winery, which always gives me a greater sense of appreciation for the wine. Plus, there were many comfortable seating areas and cocktail tables where you could enjoy your food and mingle with other attendees. In contrast, the International Festival Tasting can be overwhelming with the number of wineries they have. This environment promotes people to try as many wines as possible rather than take their time to experience the wines from each winery. This comment is not to discourage people from going to the International Festival Tasting, but more to inform you of the pros and cons of each event so you can pick the event that best suits the experience you desire. All in all, this was a fun, tasty event that I’m sure will be on the event list for future festivals.

Here are my top wine picks from this event:

*Note: this list is not numerical order of most preferred.

  1. Tribune Cabernet Sauvignon 2021

  2. Tribune Chardonnay 2021

  3. Talbott Pinot Noir 2019

  4. Beringer Vineyard Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

  5. Josh Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2019

  6. Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfindal 2021

  7. J.Lohr Vineyards Chardonnay 2020

  8. J.Lohr Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

  9. Prisoner Wine Unshackled Cabernet Sauvignon 2021

  10. Justin Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 2019

All In All...

Deanna Lowe, Blogger, Wineisseur

The Vancouver International Wine Festival is the one time of the year when you can taste 1000s of wines from all over the world at one local event, so I recommend you attend atleast 1 event to take advantage of this opportunity. The next Vancouver International Wine Festival is on February 24-March 3, 2024, so get your tickets when they are available and I hope to see you there!.

Note: A little hack to get a FREE ticket into the International Festival Tasting is to volunteer for the festival. It’s a simple way to gain access at no cost! You’ll thank me later.

Tips for wine tastings

Summer is the prime time to go wine tasting with your friends and family at your local wineries and wine events. However, when it gets hot and you’re drinking a lot, it can be very easy to get dehydrated and wake up with a hangover. So, the important part of making your experience at these tastings pleasant is to: 1) Drink lots of water consistently before, during, and after your tasting, and 2) Don’t be embarrassed to use your spittoon. In the wine world, spitting is acceptable, so depending on your tolerance, be sure to spit as needed. All in all, drink in moderation, listen to what your body needs, and take care of yourself. Ciao!

bottom of page