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Cheers from the 2012 Playhouse Winefest!


The recent 2012 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival was a huge success and we thank YOU for helping to make it happen. The festival set a new box office record of $1,077,608. And for those lovers of statistics, the festival attracted some 25,000 wine lovers to 64 events to sample from 1,700 wines poured by 180 wineries representing 15 countries. We couldn't have done it without your passion, knowledge and commitment. For some terrific photos of the 2012 festival, visit  And do have a look at the Festival Press page to read through some of the news coverage generated. Also see these topics below the 2013 preview:


  • Thanks to Wines of Chile
  • Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction raises $250,000
  • Future fundraising   
  • Trade Competition winners:
    • Spirited Industry Professional
    • Sommelier of the Year 
    • Wine Professional Challenge
    • Blind Tasting Challenge
    • Vintners Brunch Food and Wine Pairing Contest
    • Wine List Awards  
  • Back on stage: God of Carnage at the Vancouver Playhouse
  • Sad news - Wine Festival family loses two members   

2013 Playhouse Winefest Preview

February 25 to March 3


We look forward to welcoming you back to the 35th Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, which takes place February 25 to March 3, 2013. The festival expects to be similar in size and scope to recent festivals, featuring some 1,700 wines from 15 countries. We again will be headquartered at the Vancouver Convention Centre and at select restaurants and venues throughout the city. Some notes:

  • Next year's theme region is California
  • The global focus is on Chardonnay
  • Next year's winery applications open May 15 and close on June 15. Check the Exhibitors section of for details
  • Advance tickets go on sale November 1 and all public tickets will go on sale January 8
  • Wine List Award entries open November 1 and close January 15
  • Trade Days Conference tickets go on sale January 22  


Thanks to Wines of Chile


Special thanks to 2012 theme region Wines of Chile for showcasing their extraordinary wines, winemakers (Eduardo Chadwick, Aurelio Montes, Alvaro Espinoza, to name a few) and events. For more information on continuing your Chilean wine journey, visit


Big thanks also to all the producers who poured a fine selection of Cabernets as part of our varietal global focus.


Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction 

raises $250,000


The centrepiece of the Playhouse Winefest is the spectacular Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction, presented by Goldcorp, at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. The 2012 gala raised net proceeds of $250,000 for the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company, bringing the total raised for the theatre company to $7.8 million since the festival's inception in 1979. This year's proceeds have been paid to the theatre company and underwrote the 2011/2012 season. Big thanks to everyone who contributed to the gala's success - wineries, auction donors, attendees, sponsors, committee members and volunteers - to say nothing of bidders!  


Future fundraising initiatives


You are all aware of the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company's sad announcement that it would cease operations after 49 seasons. God of Carnage, the final production in the 2011/2012 season, is on stage now through May 5; see below for more details. We are pleased to confirm that the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, a separately incorporated non-profit society, will continue to stage one of the city's premier festivals with our industry partners. The disposition of future Wine Festival fundraising initiatives will be announced by the festival's Board of Directors later this summer.

   The 2008/09 production of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE. 
 Photo by David Cooper

Congratulations to our 2012 Trade Competition Winners


Vancouver's vibrant food and wine scene has a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and we're proud to honour the best of the best through our trade competitions. Please give another big round of applause to the winners.


Spirited Industry Professional

Richard Carras, vice-president of Authentic Wine and Spirits Merchants,  won the Spirited Industry Professional Award. The festival considers nominations from across the province, and the award is presented to an individual who has made a significant

and indisputable impact on British Columbia wine culture. Born and raised in Vancouver, Richard studied sciences at UBC, but a part-time bartending job led him to fall in love with the hospitality industry. He set up and managed Vancouver's first wine bar and then became a wine consultant for a small importing agency. In 1997, he became the first non-US employee of Robert Mondavi Winery, working his way up to the position of export sales director for Asia and the Americas. He is a founder of the BC Hospitality Foundation, which established a trust fund for those in the hospitality  industry while coping with severe illness or accident, and also was inducted into the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association Hall of Fame. He is past-president of the Society of Wine Educators and is a Certified Wine Educator, a certification held by only about 250 people worldwide. In 2006 Richard cofounded a new Vancouver-based fine wine and spirits company, which now has employees and offices throughout Western Canada.


Sommelier of the Year

Terry Threlfall, sommelier and wine director at Hawksworth Restaurant, won the Playhouse Winefest's 2012 Sommelier of the Year. The award, the 13th annual, goes to the province's best sommelier as voted by key industry members; Terry also will be recognized in the May Restaurant Awards issue of Vancouver Magazine. Born and bred in Vancouver, Terry's wine career began at West Restaurant. That was followed by a decade abroad, including a stint in London as the head sommelier and wine buyer at Michelin-starred Chez Bruce, where his wine program won a number of acclaimed international awards. Terry is the first Canadian sommelier to become a regular panelist for Decanter magazine and a judge for the prestigious Decanter Wine Awards. In 2011, he returned to home to Vancouver to head the wine team at Hawksworth. Terry also serves as festival sommelier at the Playhouse Winefest, a job he's held for some 10 years; during his decade abroad, he commuted to Vancouver annually to spearhead the festival's wine team and direct the complex wine logistics. Terry is certified by the International Sommelier Guild.


The Art Institute of Vancouver  

Wine Professional Challenge

The seventh annual Art Institute of Vancouver Wine Professional Challenge was won by Adrien Boisvert of Glowbal Group's Black + Blue, who   took home the coveted Puddifoot Award (a Riedel carafe, engraved trophy and bottle of vintage port) and a Trade Days Conference Pass to the 2013 Playhouse Winefest. The challenge requires competitors, all    

professionally employed in the wine industry, to rotate through five judging stations and speak for three minutes on a specific wine topic. Judges were Barbara Philip MW of BC Liquor Stores, Neil Ingram of Boneta, Michaela Morris AIWS of House Wine, DJ Kearney of the International Sommelier Guild and Mark Shipway AIWS of The International Culinary School.

Blind Tasting Challenge

The inaugural Blind Tasting Challenge featured wine trade and service professionals, culinarians and nonprofessional wine consumers alike. Competitors blind-tasted seven wines and identified them using the Wine and Spirit Education Trust's systematic approach to tasting. The discriminating, and winning, palates belonged to Lesley Anne Saito of Legacy Liquor Store (wine trade); Leah Gamache of Chambar Restaurant (culinary); and Brian Glaum, who won in the consumer category. The challenge was generously sponsored by the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts and Mark Anthony Brands.


Vintners Brunch Food and Wine Pairing Contest

Chef Scott Kidd of Lift won the food and wine pairing competition at Vintners Brunch with his Quails Egg Benedict paired with M. Chapoutier's Beaurevoir Tavel 2010. Runner up was Taryn Wa, executive chef of Savoury Chef Foods, who paired ricotta gnocchi and braised pork cheeks with Marchesi de'Frescobaldi's Terre More IGT Maremma Toscana 2009. Third place went to Northwest Culinary Academy, under head pastry chef Tim Muehlbauer, who paired blackberry-peach melba bar with Deseado Sparkling Torrontés from Patagonia by Familia Schroeder. Vintners Brunch takes attendees on a tour of 16 of the city's top restaurants and caterers, and each chef creates a dish to match specifically with one wine. A panel of four judges, including Hired Belly wine writer Tim Pawsey, The Vancouver Sun Food editor Juanita Ng, sommelier Josh Clark and wine-chef consultant Tony Lawrence, sample and taste their way through all the offerings and announce a winner just before the band strikes up and the dancing starts. Vintners Brunch is generously sponsored by the participating wineries, restaurants and caterers, and by The Vancouver Sun-published Salut! wine quarterly.  


Wine List Awards

Platinum Wine List awards went to Blue Water Café & Raw Bar; Cioppino's Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca; Hawksworth Restaurant; and West. For Gold, Silver, Bronze and Honourable Mention winners please visit at . The Vancouver Magazine-sponsored Wine List Awards recognize restaurants throughout British Columbia and Alberta for creating wine lists that complement their establishment's unique menu and concept. Candidates submitted their wine lists and menus, and were then visited by judges who reviewed their programs. 


Back on stage: God of Carnage 

at Vancouver Playhouse


As mentioned above, the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company announced on March 9 that it was ceasing operations. Since then, the Vancouver Civic Theatres advised that God of Carnage, the final scheduled production of the Playhouse Theatre Company's 2011/2012 season, would proceed as planned from April 14 to May 5. God of Carnage is a co-production with the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. A West End and Broadway hit, God of Carnage is "fast, furious and very, very funny." When two young boys get into a playground fight, their parents meet to discuss the incident in a civilized manner. But what begins as a calm and rational debate between grownups soon degenerates into a hysterical evening of name-calling, tantrums and tears before bedtime. Tickets are on sale and can be reserved by calling 604-665-3470, or in person at the theatre box office, Hamilton St. at Dunsmuir, Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. All ticket commitments will be honoured, including season ticket-holders.


Sad news 


Two valued members of the Playhouse Winefest family passed away this week. Both of them will be sorely missed.

  • John E. Levine, the man who founded the Playhouse Winefest, died April 17, peacefully listening to jazz. John was a former board member with the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company and started the festival in 1979 as a fundraising initiative. There was one winery - Robert Mondavi - and wine was served in paper cups. The festival has come a long way since then - 1,700 wines and not one of them served in paper cups! - and now is widely regarded as the best in North America. And John's fundraising idea raised $7.8 million over the ensuing 34 years for the theatre company. He was 74 years old.
  • Tom Kassian, who worked as head of our security team for 15 years, passed away suddenly on April 12. Those of you who entered the tasting room via the Exhibitors Entrance will remember him scanning your badges, and always with a smile. He was a wonderful person with a fantastic personality. He was 51 years old. 

On behalf of the Board of Directors and all staff at the Playhouse Winefest, we extend a heartfelt thank you for your generous contribution to Canada's premier wine show.   


We look forward to seeing you in 2013!   


Harry Hertscheg,                        Randy Kaardal 

Executive Director                      Chair, Board of Directors 







2013 Preview
God of Carnage
Sad News

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I learn and taste so much at the Vancouver International Wine Festival that I seldom miss it. It's one of the world's best festivals -- certainly Canada's.
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