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Column: The wine world arrives for Vancouver International Wine Festival

The best International Wine Festival in North America opened this week.

The best International Wine Festival in North America opened this week. Although this annual celebration boasts 57 events with 163 wineries from 16 countries pouring 1,450 wines is mainly about wine, it also financially supports the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.

At Monday’s opening of the 42nd Vancouver Wine Festival, Christopher Gaze, the Founding Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach spoke to the wine media at Joey’s on Burrard in Vancouver.

“ We had a wonderful gala on Saturday night, the Bacchanalia Gala at the Hotel Vancouver and it was a superb evening. It was an easy fun evening! The food was incredible and the wine just as incredible. We raised $233,000 on the auction and $20,000 on the raffle, a sum total of $253,000! To the entire wine festival community, we offer our deepest thanks."

"Thanks to the wine festival and its financial support, Bard on the Beach is able to strengthen the artistic and production excellence. It also makes it possible to offer thousands of discounted and free play tickets to young people and those who are less fortunate. It also supports the year-round education programs, in schools, community centres, and the BMO Theatre Centre administrative home."

During that event, Joey’s Group Sommelier, Jason Yamasaki introduced the Keynote Speaker, Andrew Jefford.

“He’s a journalist, an editor, a wine writer, an author, a poet, and a Decanter Magazine columnist. Jefford’s ‘The New France’ is one of the best wine books I’ve ever read. He completely immersed me (on) how wine writing can be funny, emotional, informative and just re-readable over and over again."

Yesterday at the Keynote Speaker Lunch, Jefford spoke on a hot topic in the wine world, climate change. He underlined the uncertainties and challenges, which lie ahead. Using French examples, he pointed out that vineyard change has been a reality throughout history; these changes offer opportunities as well as challenges.

And there is another exciting component of the festival. With France as the 2020 festival’s theme country, the festival has extended this celebration of French wines beyond festival week. They’ve partnered with Expedia Cruise Ship Centers to curate this small, unique seven day river cruise so you can experience the best combination of wine and travel through Bordeaux wine regions.

Visit the renowned vineyards of Saint-Émilion, Pauillac and Libourne, discovering timeless wine-making traditions, and visit the Bordeaux Wine Museum, a spectacular sensory experience with the power to turn even the most hesitant wine drinkers into connoisseurs.

Your journey from April 9 to 16, 2020 aboard the AmaDolce will be enhanced with informative wine seminars and wine paired dinners hosted by renowned wine expert and author, Paul Wagner, the 2018 VIWF keynote speaker. Paul will personally select the wines for the exclusive dinners to be paired with the menus curated by the ship’s world-class culinary team.

Visit for more exciting details. Book by March 31 and save $600 per stateroom.

Net proceeds from the cruise will help support Bard on the Beach. Expedia Cruise Ship Centers generously donated a balcony stateroom to this cruise for the 2019 Bacchanalia Gala Live Auction, which proved to be the most successful item that evening, raising $16,000 for Bard!


Eric Hanson is a life-long Richmond resident, retired teacher and wine educator. Eric has also taught wine appreciation courses in Richmond and throughout Metro Vancouver for many years. He continues to be a journalistic ambassador for the enchanting world of wine through his weekly column.