Our mission is to reward restaurateurs who make the effort to produce an original and creative wine program. A successful wine program should offer consumers a well-selected choice of wines that harmonize with the food. The program should also encourage all staff to have significant wine knowledge that they can share comfortably with diners.

We believe a good wine list brings in customers. A great wine program in a restaurant encourages customers to come back for more – more choices, and more delightful and memorable experiences.

Our awards fall into five categories: Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Honourable Mention.

Click here to see a list of the 2024 winners.

Applications for the 2025 Wine Program Excellence Awards will open in early August. Winners will be announced at the 21st Annual Awards Lunch on Friday, February 28, 2025.

Applicants for the 2024 awards were required to do the following:

  • Tell us your wine philosophy (maximum 200 words), describe your staff education program, and provide copies of your current wine list and dinner menu, all in PDF format. Send to awards@vanwinefest.ca
  • Complete the Online Application and pay the non-refundable fee of $150 (August 9-September 27, 2023).

All submissions are carefully reviewed and critiqued by a panel of wine judges, who donate many hours of their time as consultants.

All entrants receive one ticket to each of the following Friday, March 1 Trade events ($148 value based on 2023 ticket prices)

  • Celebrating Excellence: 20th Annual Awards Lunch featuring Italy
  • Trade Tasting with Buyers Hour (1:30 p.m.)

Winners receive:

  • Recognition and an award (Platinum to Bronze recipients) at the 20th Annual Awards Lunch featuring Italy
  • The opportunity to pre-buy additional Trade Days events. *New this year – if you purchase an additional Awards Lunch ticket during the pre-buy period, you’ll receive a complimentary Trade Tasting ticket.
  • Online listing and a hotlink at VanWineFest.ca
  • Acknowledgement in festival ads
  • Self-promotion of a VanWineFest award-winning wine list on your restaurant’s website, wine list and menu with a digital decal
  • Acknowledgement and promotion in VIWF marketing initiatives, including social media, press releases, e-newsletters, and print pieces

Our professional judges consider the philosophy behind your wine program and how successfully your wine & food pairing goals match that philosophy. They look for your efforts in training all serving staff on your wine program. They also consider the patron experience. Is your wine list easy to understand? Does it look clean and professional? Is it free of grammatical and spelling errors? Finally, do the wines on your list offer real value and encourage consumers to try new wines?

For further information please contact: awards@vanwinefest.ca