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Column: Your guide to VanWineFest 2019

Delicious wine and food excitement are coming in February.
Bacchanalia Gala Dinner and Auction kicks off the 2019 VanWineFest. Photo: Christine McAvoy

If January seems like a let-down after all the Christmas festivities, there is something exciting just around the corner. The Vancouver International Wine Festival opens Feb. 23 and continues for eight days ending March 3. And ticket sales begin Tuesday, Jan. 8 so you’ve got time to read over the online events calendar to guarantee tickets for your favourite events.

The 2019 Van Wine Fest kicks off in spectacular style with the Bacchanalia Gala Dinner and Auction on Saturday Feb. 23 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver ($450). If you fancy a Black Tie evening of incredible wine, inventive food pairings, and unparalleled opportunities to enhance your wine cellar, this gala is for you!

Starting at 6 p.m. with a sparkling wine reception, you will be pampered with nine more premium wines paired with a gourmet five-course menu. On top of this, you will be entertained with live music and dancing. Plus throughout the evening, you can participate in an auction for rare wines, epicurean getaways and unique wine and food experiences from top restaurants.

If you prefer to spend less, there are seventeen other dinners ranging in price from $145 to $225, which includes all taxes and gratuities. California is in the spotlight this year and there are six dinners that feature Californian wines. On Tuesday, Feb. 26., there is “Explore California!” ($225) with three prestigious wineries paired with the award-winning cuisine of Ned Bell, the Vancouver Club’s executive culinary director. Understand Napa Valley terroir through the Louis M Martini Winery, taste Sonoma with Gallo Signature Series wines; and savour a Talbott Vineyards “Grand Cru” Chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands.

On that same evening you can “Discover Robert Mondavi Winery” ($225) at Ancora Waterfront Dining and Patio. Enjoy Reserve and Library vintage wines, presented by Robert Mondavi Winery Chief Winemaker Genevieve Janssens and Master of Wine Mark de Vere, paired with the fine cuisine of Robert Mondavi Winery Chef Jeff Mosher and Ancora’s Executive Chef Ricardo Valverde.

Also on that Tuesday evening is “Le Beau Diner” ($225) at Gotham Steakhouse & Bar where classic and contemporary cuisine meets the historical winemaking of Beaulieu Vineyard. For more than a century, Beaulieu has been the benchmark for producing Cabernet Sauvignon in Rutherford in the Napa Valley.  Gotham’s Chef Claude Douguet’s menu will do these Beaulieu’s amazing wines proud.

The following night, Wednesday Feb.27 is “Cioppino’s Masters Cali.” ($225). Chef/Owner Pino Posteraro of Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill and Enoteca will prepare a spectacular dinner, which features wines from some of California’s iconic wineries. Enjoy a feast prepared by the master of Vancouver’s Italian cuisine matched with ten wines from Grgich Hills Estate, Twomey Cellars, St. Supéry Vineyards, and Silver Oak Cellars.

And, there’s two other California wine dinners as well as many others showcasing Italy, Croatia, B.C., Australia, France, Argentina, and Germany. Proceeds from the festival go to Bard on the Beach. Check out

Eric Hanson is a Richmond resident and wine enthusiast