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About the Festival

The Vancouver International Wine Festival, Canada's premier food & wine event, has three mandates: to provide an informative, educational and entertaining wine experience for public and trade; to be a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry and festival partners; and to raise funds for the Bard on the Beach Theatre Society.

The festival grew from humble roots as a fundraising initiative of then Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company board member John E. Levine. The inaugural festival in 1979 featured one vintner - Robert Mondavi - and saw approximately 1,000 people attend the two-day event at Hycroft, the Shaughnessy mansion owned by Vancouver's University Women's Club.

In its second year, VanWineFest was also a one-winery show, but had grown by its fourth year to attract 45 California wineries, becoming known as the California Wine Festival. The ninth festival in 1987 was the first multi-national event, with wineries from six more countries joining to showcase their wines. After outgrowing several different venues, the Wine Festival moved to the Vancouver Convention Centre in 1988, where the main Tasting Room sessions have been held for the past 25 years.

In 1996, VanWineFest began shining the spotlight on specific wine regions by featuring a new theme region or country each year, with the French wine region Bordeaux being the inaugural theme. In 2016, the theme country will be Italy. Starting in 2004, VanWineFest highlighted an annual global focus, with Syrah+Shiraz as the focus in 2015 (harking back to the first global focus, Syrah/Shiraz). For a historical look at the theme region/countries and global focus, click here.

Sadly, the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company announced in March 2012 that it would cease operations after 49 seasons, thus ending a long and fruitful relationship. Over 34 years, the Wine Festival raised more than $8 million dollars for Playhouse operations, supporting a rich legacy of more than 235 theatrical productions. The newly named Vancouver International Wine Festival announced in September 2012 that its charitable partner would be Bard on the Beach Theatre Society.

Today VanWineFest attracts some of the biggest industry names from around the world and is firmly established as the continent's premier wine event and among the biggest, best and oldest wine events in the world. It features wine tastings and pairings, gourmet dinners and luncheons, educational seminars and culinary competitions.

This is a rare opportunity to meet owners, winemakers and senior representatives from wineries around the globe. For either the experienced wine lover or the novice, the festival has something to please every palate and pocketbook.

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Vancouver International Wine Festival : Board of Directors

Randy Kaardal, Chair
Jim Bovard
Carmen D'Onofrio Jr.
David Hopgood, Winery Selection Committee Chair
Art Kendall

Margie Knox
Jim Marion
Jana Maclagan, Bacchanalia Gala Chair
Bill Michael
Paulette Parry
Claire Sakaki
Michael Shuster
Garth Thurber, Treasurer

"As always, it's the visiting principals that set this show apart..." - Anthony Gismondi
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Vancouver International Wine Festival 2012