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Okanagan-Taste

Wine world coming to you

If you’re game for a road trip or a short flight to Vancouver at the end of February, the wine world is in Vancouver every year as winter begins to make way for spring.

The Vancouver International Wine Festival began on Feb. 23 and runs through this weekend, as it has for four decades.

This year, there are dozens of events from dinners, to seminars, to brunches, to a trade symposium for those in the wine business, and around 725 wines to try at the International Festival Tastings, from 16 countries.

The number of wines doubles if you include those at all 54 events.

That’s a lot of wine. No wonder seasoned veterans of the “VIWF” map their route around the tasting room and perhaps go twice; one night for whites and rosés, one for reds. I end these tastings with a couple of fortified wines, or sparkling wine or two as a palate cleanser.

A number of Okanagan wineries have packed up for the big city. The VIWF often heralds the calm before the storm of our full-blown wine tourism season and provides ample networking opportunities alongside tasting bottles that are difficult, if not impossible, to find in B.C.

This year, the festival’s theme country is California. Last year, Spain and Portugal were the theme countries, and the year before, Canada hit the stage for the country’s 150th birthday.

Why, then, would local wineries take part when it’s not our year?

The early days of the festival provide winery principals with numerous seminars during the trade days conference. Here, they attend exclusive tastings aimed at educating attendees about wine production and winery management, the business of wine, and wine tourism.

Winemakers also socialize and exchange business cards at receptions at the coveted trade tastings. Coveted because, unlike the evening festival tastings, there are fewer people crowding the tables, and much more time to chat with your cohorts about varietals, yeasts, and barrel aging.

Think of it as professional development for the uber wine geek.

This year, Canada is represented almost exclusively by B.C., including one sake producer, with a few wineries from Nova Scotia and Ontario.

Those of us living here in wine country might be surprised to hear attendees commenting:

  • Canada makes wine?
  • There are how many wineries in British Columbia?

Many Lower Mainlanders may not know they are a mere four-hour drive to hundreds of wineries in the Okanagan, Similkameen, Shuswap, and Kamloops areas, not to mention a ferry ride away from wineries on Vancouver Island.

But that’s changing as knowledge of B.C. wines continues to grow. Attending the festival to create the Canada area of the tasting room is an opportunity to educate seasoned wine veterans about what we grow and do here.

It also reminds tasters that even though the Vancouver Wine Festival literature says, “the wine world is here,” there’s a beautiful little corner of it just a few hours away.

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About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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