VanWineFest COVID-19 Updates

Update October 23:

As of Monday, October 26, the Vancouver International Wine Festival office will be temporarily closed until further notice, and staff will not be available for general inquiries. The festival’s board of directors is continuing to explore options for smaller-scale events and activities, and we will resume operations as things move forward. Watch VanWineFest.ca for updates.

We look forward to welcoming the wine world back to Vancouver once restrictions are lifted and sharing the love of the grape with you once again.

Update October 2:

It’s hard to believe that the 2020 Vancouver International Wine Festival took place just seven months ago. The world has changed radically since February, and what was possible then is only a fond memory now.

Normally, this would be the time of year when we announce next year’s participating wineries. We made the decision in April, however, to postpone our application period, in the hopes that the situation would become clearer and more positive in the summer.

Unfortunately, the opposite has occurred, as British Columbia is still experiencing persistent rates of COVID-19 infections. There is no indication that restrictions on gatherings will be lifted any time soon.

Given these circumstances, and the lead time and resources required to organize an event the size and scale of the Vancouver International Wine Festival, the VIWF Board of Directors has made the difficult decision that a large-scale festival will not take place in 2021.

The festival is continuing to explore options for other activities in 2021, including small-scale seminars, dinners, virtual events, or an auction. Our foremost concern is to ensure the safety and comfort of participants; any activity will adhere strictly to public health orders and guidelines. We have already been working with venues to put together COVID-19 protocols that will allow us to share wines in small groups, and we have been thrilled to partner with Bard on the Beach on Wine Wednesdays, a series of entertaining virtual tastings over the past few months.

This is, of course, not the message that we wanted to be sending today. Rest assured, however, that every effort is being made to ensure that the festival will be ready to welcome the wine world to Vancouver once restrictions are lifted.

VanWineFest Operational, But Office Closed

Due to evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with due concern for the health and safety of employees and stakeholders, the Vancouver International Wine Festival has closed the office to the public until further notice. The BMO Theatre Centre is also closed to the public, including the offices and studios of our charitable beneficiary, Bard on the Beach. Please call or email in advance if sending a courier, so we can confirm if someone can be available to receive a package.

As we move into Phase 3, staff are returning to the office on a limited basis, following strict safety procedures. The building, however, remains closed to the public.

In the meantime, please keep enjoying your favorite festival wines and follow us on social media to find out ways to experience virtual tastings, keep abreast of industry news, and learn how to support our community. If you have news or announcements you would like us to share with our followers, please forward the information to Meredith Elliott. We want to help sell wine, remain connected with our communities, and nurture a healthy wine and food culture. You can find initiatives and information here.

If you have any questions regarding VanWineFest operations, please contact info@vanwinefest.ca.

2021 VIWF Winery Applications on Hold

While government has indicated that there will be a gradual reopening in BC in the coming months, there are currently still significant restrictions on larger events and upon international travel that may continue for some time. We are continuously monitoring and reviewing the guidance from government with a view to determining what VIWF 2021 might look like and whether we will be able to continue as originally planned.

As such, the winery application period will remain on hold until we have clearer indications from government guidelines and by our venue partners on best practices required to host events in restaurants, hotels and convention spaces.

South America Theme Region Postponed to 2022

We have postponed the planned theme region of South America until 2022. With a shortened timeline and global uncertainty likely to continue into the fall, we will not be able to effectively showcase the wineries and wines of South America and give them the spotlight they so richly deserve. Instead, we are considering various global wine themes to welcome the wine world in Vancouver.

Principal Requirement Relaxed

With international travel likely to be restricted for some time to come, we will be relaxing our guidelines on attending principals for VIWF 2021. We will, of course, be delighted to highlight winemakers, owners, and senior winery executives, but we recognize that travel may not be feasible, and we don’t wish to add additional barriers to attendance in these exceptional circumstances.

Bard on the Beach Update

Sadly, our charitable beneficiary, Bard on the Beach, made the difficult decision to cancel their 2020 festival, rather than risk the safety of their patrons, staff, volunteers, and theatre artists. They will be returning in 2021 with their originally planned 2020 lineup. Please listen to Artistic Director Christopher Gaze’s message on the Bard website.

We will continue to support them through this difficult time and remain committed to our mandate: 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.

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