Canada turns 150 next year and the Vancouver International Wine Festival has invited the wine world to the party. And the wine world has responded: the festival will feature more than 100 international wineries and about 75 Canadian wineries at Canada’s premier wine show. The Canadian lineup includes wineries from British Columbia, Ontario and, for the first time, Nova Scotia. The 39th annual VIWF takes place February 11 to 19 and features wines from 16 countries; the theme is The Wine World Celebrates Canada.

“We’re looking forward to showcasing the largest selection of Canadian wines ever assembled at an international wine festival,” said executive director Harry Hertscheg. “With over 175 attending wine stars and winery principals, along with national and international media and buyers, VIWF 2017 will be an unprecedented opportunity for Canada to understand its place in the wine world, both as a long-time importer and an emerging exporter of premium wines.”

Canada’s sesquicentennial is the perfect time to celebrate Canada’s growing importance in the wine world, not just as a producer of world-class wines, but as a key market for international wineries. The 12th VINEXPO study, World Wine and Spirits Market with an Outlook to 2018, noted that Canada is the world’s seventh largest wine market, valued at US$6.1 billion, and should grow by 10.4 percent by 2018. In 2014, Canada became the world’s sixth largest wine importer at 32.7 million cases. Import consumption is expected to increase by 4.1 percent to reach 16.4 litres per adult in 2018, said VINEXPO. And Canadians purchase high-value wines: Canada is the world’s fourth largest wine importer in sales value (Global Trade Atlas, 2013). British Columbia’s wine market tops $1 billion.

The Vancouver International Wine Festival reflects and helps drive these trends. Festivalgoers spend $2,291 annually on wine, which is nine times the BC average according to StatsCan. The average price of wines purchased at the onsite BC Liquor Store is $30.

The winery lineup will be announced in the fall. In addition to the tasting room that features all participating wineries pouring well over 800 wines to consumers and trade, VIWF offers some 50 special events including a gala auction, winery dinners, grazing lunches, wine parties, tutored tastings and trade-specific events, including an industry symposium (see Festival Overview). Event themes include cool-climate wines, sparkling wine, iconic wines from iconic places, and a focus on Riesling and Pinot Noir varietals. Advance tickets to the tasting room go on sale November 1 at reduced rates; all public events go on sale January 10.

A key part of VIWF is the 10-event Trade Days Conference on February 15, 16 and 17 for wine and fine dining professionals. For the past three years, Trade Days has been named “#1 Food, Wine & Hospitality Industry Event in Canada” by New York’s BizBash Top 100 Events. Trade Days passes go on sale December 1; all trade events go on sale January 17.

The Vancouver International Wine Festival is Canada’s premier wine show and widely considered to be one of the top wine festivals in the world. Founded in 1979, it’s also one of the oldest and, at 25,000 admissions, one of the biggest.

“It’s amazing. It’s the best-run festival in the world. I hold this festival up as a paragon of what could happen around the world,” said Brian Lynn, proprietor of Australia’s Majella Wines, during the 2016 festival.

Howard Soon, master winemaker at Sandhill in the B.C. Okanagan, said, “It’s great to be at Vancouver International Wine Festival. We’re invited to attend, and are arrayed against all the best wines in the world on an equal playing field. People can compare our wines to those from around the world, and that’s a special privilege to me. [This festival] is respectful of the wine. That’s what I see here.”

The festival is a major fundraiser for Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival. Since inception, VIWF has raised $8.7 million for the performing arts, including $235,000 for Bard in 2016.


Canada’s premier wine show will mark its 39th edition of pairing wine, food and the performing arts from February 11 to 19, 2017. The festival features The Wine World Celebrates Canada as the theme. The festival will showcase some 175 wineries from 16 countries (including 75 wineries from Canada) pouring a projected 1,550+ wines at 50+ events to a projected 25,000 admissions. The Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction opens the festival on Saturday, February 11 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. The festival is produced by the Vancouver International Wine Festival Society, which has three mandates: provide an informative, educational and entertaining wine experience for public and trade; be a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry and festival partners; and raise funds for the Bard on the Beach Theatre Society. Since inception in 1979, the festival has raised $8.7 million for the performing arts. Major industry partners are the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, Canadian Vintners Association and the Import Vintners & Spirits Association. The festival is made possible through the gracious support of our participating countries’ consulates and embassies.

For more information about the Vancouver International Wine Festival go to Relive the 2016 festival. Find out the Quick Facts about VIWF.


Wines of Canada is a collaborative initiative of the Canadian Vintners Association and regional wine associations–British Columbia Wine Institute, Wine Marketing Association of Ontario, Vignerons indépendants du Québec and the Winery Association of Nova Scotia–to bring the country’s best wines with the world. Partial funding for this project has been provided by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada and the AgriMarketing program through Growing Forward 2.


Celebrating its 27th season in 2016, Bard on the Beach is one of Canada’s largest not-for-profit, professional Shakespeare festivals. It is presented on the waterfront in Kitsilano’s Vanier Park, adjacent to Vancouver’s downtown core. The Festival offers Shakespeare plays, related dramas and popular special events in two performance tents every June through September. In 2015, Festival attendance exceeded 90,000 and more than 1.4 million patrons have experienced Bard since its inception. The 2016 Festival dates are June 3 to September 24 and the lineup includes The Merry Wives of Windsor, Romeo and Juliet, Othello and Pericles.

Bard also offers a range of education programs, including Young Shakespeareans Workshops for 8-18 year-olds at its Vanier Park site during the summer, and Riotous Youth for 19 to 24-year-olds. During the school term, The Festival also offers workshops for educators and youth in schools and community centres throughout BC’s Lower Mainland, as well as at its new administrative home, the BMO Theatre Centre (164 West 1st Avenue). Full Festival details and education program information is at


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