(Video) Should You Attend the Vancouver International Wine Festival?

Vancouver International Wine Festival

Our guests this evening are Monique Sousa, Wine Columnist, Ottawa Family Living and Luxe Magazines and Jon Steeves, co-owner of Bespoke Tasting, Certified Sommelier, and an Executive Coach
… and they join me now live from my home in Ottawa: Welcome to the Sunday Sipper Club Monique and Jon!

P.S. Tune in here for our next Live Video Wine Tasting:


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If you’d like to read the comments for this tasting, or make a comment yourself, visit:





Monique Sousa and Jon Steeves


Rachelle O’Connor22:50 Great guests tonight Natalie! 🍾……loved following your trip Monique and Jon (amazing people and dynamite Sommeliers) What will your next wine adventure be?

Deborah Podurgiel
Deborah Podurgiel27:17 I think you need to take several days to be able to approach a lot of the wines. One night for red, white, cavas and dessert wines. Palate get waaay tired. Sounds like you had a great time! Nice *(*


Matt Steeves

Matt Steeves28:38 Great video Somm friends! Were there great BC wineries… yes!!!! Cassini Cellars, Cedar Creek, Painted Rock, to name the three that stood out as outstanding!

Matt Steeves

Matt Steeves31:06 Did you mention the Decanter wine awards session, which included some BC wines, as well as some wine from Uruguay….


Lori Kilmartin
Lori Kilmartin20:57 Was there a lot of good BC wineries there – even though the focus was on other countries?


Alan Cameron
Alan Cameron32:26 I’m coming over to be a guest next week….


Jane Staples

Jane Staples13:33 Actually we have access to Codorniu and Segura Viuda – doesn’t get any better

Lois Gilbert
Lois Gilbert10:33 Which area in Spain is producing the best cavas?


Stephen Andrews
Stephen Andrews25:53 Mencia found in the north of Spain. And Portugal good value.


Monique Sosa

Monique Sosa5:34 Thanks Natalie MacLean! It was a pleasure talking about the ins and outs of Vanwinefest. Yes, the one thing I forgot was the names of the Spanish wines poured at my winery dinner. They were Neipoort, Artadi Wines and Marques de Murrieta! All deliciouslSee More

Lois Gilbert

Lois Gilbert0:22 Hi Natalie from Spain. Still enjoying their wines

Stephen Andrews
Stephen Andrews22:32 Did you have Any food by Ned Bell


Stephen Andrews
Stephen Andrews14:35 Any good Mencia wines?


Stephen Andrews
Stephen Andrews28:08 Oculus !


Deborah Podurgiel

Deborah Podurgiel28:26 Osoyoos Larose Grand Vin — yummy *(*






Photo by: Christine McAvoy




Photo: Monique Sousa and Jon Steeves




Photo: Monique Sousa and Jon Steeves




Photo by: Christine McAvoy




Photo: Monique Sousa and Jon Steeves




Photo by: Christine McAvoy




Photo: Monique Sousa and Jon Steeves




Photo: Monique Sousa and Jon Steeves



Photo by: Christine McAvoy




Photo: Monique Sousa and Jon Steeves



Photo: Monique Sousa and Jon Steeves



Photo by: Christine McAvoy




Photo: Monique Sousa and Jon Steeves




Photo by: Christine McAvoy



Photo: Monique Sousa and Jon Steeves







Photo by: Christine McAvoy



Photo: Monique Sousa and Jon Steeves




Photo: Monique Sousa and Jon Steeves




Photo by: Christine McAvoy




Photo: Monique Sousa and Jon Steeves




Photo: Monique Sousa and Jon Steeves




Photo by: Christine McAvoy




Photo: Monique Sousa and Jon Steeves



For tickets and information:

Vancouver International Wine Festival



Jon Steeves

Jon is the co-owner of Bespoke Tasting. He is a certified sommelier and specialized in wine list design, glassware, service training/coaching and wine marketing. He is also one of the top reviewers and bloggers on nataliemaclean.com and a professional event photographer.


Monique is the co-owner of Bespoke Tastings offering tailored private and corporate wine, craft beer and whisky tastings in the Ottawa region. She is also a regular wine, craft beer and whisky columnist and blogger for Coyle Publishing and has been featured in Ottawa Family Living Magazine and Luxe Magazine. She is a wine travel enthusiast and designs wine, spirit and culinary tours for discerning wine travellers worldwide. Her next wine adventure will take her on a sensory journey from Venice to Rome in collaboration with Travel Your World International.

It’s also squishy, isn’t it? But I’ve never done it with anybody here.

Yeah, that’s okay.

It’s because I’m wanting the white background, the neutral background, which I haven’t fixed up yet, but I certainly don’t want my bed in the background. So, and then I took down the picture of Poppy and Augustus, so that’s why it’s so sparse.

Oh, okay.

Let’s see. That’s not bad. See, that balances the light a bit more.


If you want to come in.

Try it, John.

There you go, see. I have powder too if you want it. Totally up to you. Yeah, we’re a bit washed out. There’s probably too much light coming from there. So, I’m going to turn one off, and let’s see what happens if you just have one overhead. It’s a bit, eh, that looks a bit gray. It’s not as warm.

It’s a bit blue in the background.

Yeah, so I’ll go for the, I’ll try switching them.

That’s better, I think, yeah, I think, yeah. Usually I just have one. Shiny nose. I don’t usually stand right over here. Okay, so that’s, when I introduce you, you’ll walk on and just, you’ll see yourselves in the camera. And that’s where you’re looking when you’re talking, although when I’m listening to you, I’m going to be like we’re talking. So you can either, actually, when you’re talking, you probably just should look at the camera, because if we’re all looking at each other, so when we’re listening we can listen, but when we’re talking we look at the eye right there, so that should be good.

I feel like I have the best spot. Maybe that’s why your nose is shiny.

I know. I’m going to do this. Oh, see, it’s counting down three minutes, so it will go live in three minutes.


So coolio. So you guys can exit stage left for now till I introduce you. I’m not going to go live till the thing goes. Oh my god, it’s hot in here. I had the window open. This light gets hot too. Anyway, it’s an age thing. No one else is saying they’re hot.

No, I’m really hot. That’s why I took my shirt off downstairs.

Do you think it’s planned for one hour?

No, like 30, 40 minutes.


Yeah, I’ve been trying to keep them all to that, because then I go into my group, my private group for tasting. But also, I’ve been looking at the metrics as to what’s optimal, and like, anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes is optimal from Facebook’s point of view. So, sometimes they slide into longer, but we’ve got a very focused subject, so I think it’ll be fine. 20, 30.

We can go festival, we can go experiencing the festival, we can do the specific sessions, we can do what’s happened last year, next year.

Yeah, no, there’s lots to do.

Relationships, you want stage talk?

Let’s go over the questions again.

We’ve got a minute and 30. They’re both certified, okay, so I won’t say he’s, is there something else I can say?

I’m a professional. I’m an executive coach. I don’t mind you saying that.

That’s fine. Doesn’t all have to be wineish. Okay, that’s fine, it’s just more for the balance of the credentials on either side, that’s all. You know, I’ll lead off with what’s the most amusing thing that’s happened to you at the Vancouver Wine Festival, what stories, and so you guys can choose. It’s great if you have two different stories, but if you don’t, whatever, we’ll make it a conversation. Or maybe John leads off and you add to the story, or whatever. If you think of something.

You lead off on the first one.

You got something in mind?


Strangest thing? What one should I start with? Got 45 seconds, so I’ll start with something. What’s something that would really surprise people about the Vancouver Wine Festival? You get to talk to the winemakers, right? So that might be a good one to lead with. So, 35 seconds, it’s going to go live whether we’re ready or not, so you guys push over a bit. And we’ll hear you. When I’m talking, they’ll hear you if you’re talking, okay? ‘Cause this mic is for everybody. All right, this should be fun! This’ll be great. Okay.

All right, not sure if you’ve heard of the Vancouver Wine Festival, but it’s been described as Canada’s best wine show. But should you attend? What is the value of attending? Is it worth the time and the money, especially if you do have to travel to Vancouver? Not a bad place to be, grant you that.

My guests are going to talk exactly on that point tonight, as well as about other wine shows.

How do you get the most out of a wine show when you attend? It can be overwhelming with so many wines, and classes, and everything going on there.

Welcome, folks, I’m Natalie MacLean, editor of Canada’s largest wine review site at NatalieMacLean.com, and you’ve joined us here on the Sunday Sipper Club, where we gather every week, Sundays at 6:00pm Eastern, that’s Toronto/New York time, to talk to the most interesting people in the world of wine.

Now, before I introduce my guests fully, in the comments below, just yes or no, have you ever attended the Vancouver Wine Festival? Yes or no? I’d be really curious as to how many people have been to the festival, and I’m just refreshing my Facebook page. Excellent, I’m glad you can hear us loud and clear, hear me loud and clear. Lois, welcome, I’m glad you’re here. Steven Andrews is in the house, and awesome, that’s great, guys. Okay, so let’s go for it here.

Our guests, we have two guests this evening, not just one, so twice the fun, this evening who are joining us. They are partners in wine and in life, and they’re the co-owners of Bespoke Tastings, offering tutored tastings to private and corporate groups in the Ottawa region. They’re both certified sommeliers, and he is an executive coach, and she is a wine columnist for both Ottawa Living Magazine and Luxe Magazine. And they join me now live from my office here in Ottawa. Welcome to the Sunday Sipper Club show. Monique Souza, John Steeves, yay, you’re here! We’ve never done this before. I’ve never done this before, so guys, thank you so much for giving this a shot. We’re going to get real cozy tonight.

That’s okay.

All right, good, great to have you guys here. All right, so you are just back from this year’s Vancouver Wine Festival, and I know you’ve gone there several years in a row. Let’s kick it off: what would surprise people most about this festival compared to others?

Well, for me, it’s so well-organized. Like, everything is perfectly timed to when the door’s opened, when the door’s closed, nobody’s shoving or pushing anybody, the festival itself just puts on a well-crafted, curated show. All of the invited exhibitors, us, as we get invited as media, or even the consumers, or buyers, or people in the trade. Like, everything is so well-organized and formal, and we never feel overwhelmed, or underwhelmed.

That could be an issue with a show. Like, sometimes there’ll be thousands of people and you go, oh my gosh, how can I even get through this throng of people to taste the wines. And John, what would you find the most surprising thing is when it comes to the festival?

What I love the most is the direct access to a huge diversity of wines from around the world, and the principle winemakers, and the principles from the wine companies.

That is different, isn’t it? That the winemakers have to be there pouring their wines. No offense or whatever to sales reps, but it’s not the sales rep, it’s not the marketing gal, it’s the winemaker there.

Absolutely, yeah. There’s typically an agent, and also the owner or the winemaker him or herself. And being able to be intimate with the product, be intimate with the wine itself, and have a real dialogue, and authentic dialogue about the life, the farming, the terroir, the past, the present, and the future, is absolutely exceptional.

That’s awesome. Do any of the conversations in particular, stand out for you? Can you remember, it doesn’t necessarily have to be from this year’s festival, but even in the past, a discussion you had with a winemaker, like what were you talking about, what story did he or she tell you?

There is one beautiful story that stands out. Funny, but beautiful. No judgements anywhere, but we were in a port tasting with some of the biggest port producers from Portugal, and the fellow, the principal from Quinto de Castro, described a story that was probably one of the highlights of his life so far. And these port houses are, they go centuries. They’re either, you know, several generations of ownership that have passed down from family to family. And he told us a story about, you know, yes I was born into this, the port soils are in my blood and the port is in my blood, and he said that when his child was born very recently, I don’t remember how recently, but recently, one of the things that he was really excited to do was to have his child taste port before anything else. So, he told us this story, he’s like, “I took a little vial from my cellar, “went to the hospital, the baby’s born, “I took my little finger and dipped it into the vial, “and I put it in his mouth.” So, the first thing his child tasted was port, instead of his mother’s breast milk. But it lit up the room. We were like, “Wow, that is amazing!” Like, you are truly passionate about, you know, and it’s a part of your culture, so.

And generation after generation. I mean, it really is part of that, and developing a taste for wine very early. I’ve heard people putting just a dot of Château des Charmes or some sweet wine or whatever. I mean, personally, with my son, I always wanted him to not think of wine as taboo, so my mistake, or maybe it was the right thing to do, I gave him a dry Shiraz and he said it was totally yuck. He was three. He still doesn’t drink wine. I think I turned him off it for life. But anyway, so that’s a great story.

But he loves the strawberries and black pepper.

Oh yes, yes, yes, yes, that’s true, that’s true, you have a good memory. That’s awesome. Okay, so this year’s theme was Spain and Portugal, that was the theme countries. So, that’s the other difference about the Vancouver Wine Festival, they always have a theme country. So, tell me a little bit about that while I check Facebook. What kind of things were going on around, obviously there’s lots of wines from Spain and Portugal, but what were the seminars like, what were the events like for this country, these countries?

Well, everything from cava to port, we already mentioned port. It wasn’t just 100% seminars on those two regions, but some of it was either discovering these regions. For instance, in Portugal, they have so many grapes that I don’t really know. I discovered a new grape called the Encruzado, a white grape from Portugal, that is similar to Chardonnay, so it’s made in either a dry, very, very dry Cavalise style, it can be made into sparkling wine, it can be oaked and made into big, buttery versions of Encruzado, so that was really amazing to discover, and very affordable as well. So yeah, discovery seminars, very focused seminars on cava. I’ll let John talk to you about that.

The sparkling wine of Spain.

That was, I won’t say anything, no spoilers. There was port.

Of course, yeah.

There were other highlights on Rioja. John also attended a seminar on Rioja.

So we get to go into the deep dive with all of these tastings ’cause you’re tasting side by side many of the same type of wine.

And on the tasting floor, so if you don’t have a seminar ticket, you would’ve had the chance to taste food from Spain and Portugal. The consulates of both countries were there highlighting their products and all of the beautiful sausages, and meats, and oh my gosh, amazing.

That is so awesome. John, I’m coming back to you in a minute. I’m just going to tell you folks, if you are just joining us now and you’re enjoying this conversation, please take a moment to share this video, comment if you will. And if you want to know when we go live each week, click on the follow button.

And at the end of this session, I’m going to announce last week’s winner, who shared, and liked, and commented, and whatever for a signed copy of Cathy Huyghe’s book from Forbes Magazine, Hungry for Wine. As you know, I always post a “Get Reminder” on the page, so if you want to know, just click on that to get a reminder each week. All right, and I’m going to just check over here to Facebook, ’cause the comments are coming in. All right, Andrea Shapiro says, “Looks like the two of you had a great time.” Beverly Aslin says, “Welcome everyone “from Southern California.” Laurie Kiel Martin: “The broadcast “keeps getting interrupted.” Okay, hopefully that’s an issue that is local to you, Laurie. I’m not seeing any interruptions yet. Let’s see, not totally maxing out our CPU, but let’s see if we can keep going here. Paul says, “We have not had the pleasure of “attending the broadcast.” Okay, so John, to you, you did the cava tasting, did you?

Yeah, I did a cava masterclass on my first morning. So, arrive in Vancouver on Tuesday evening, and then wake up, you know, in three time zones over, and first thing in the morning, going to a cava masterclass. So, you enter the room, and at the front of the room are principals from 10 different organizations, who have produced the wine, and very proudly have prominently displayed them on a place mat. And each of the place mats are, so every seating, place seating, is labeled with each of the wines, appropriately filled with one, I think it’s an ounce, and labeled with the types of wines that are in your glass. So, you sit down and you have this diverse portfolio of cavas sitting in front of you for breakfast.

A good way to start, breakfast of champions.

And I have to say, it was absolutely amazing.

And you know that side-by-side tasting, it’s like if you only have one cava, or one type of a wine, just that one, it’s hard to say, well, I’m not sure how to describe this, but it’s when you have the same type of wine and side-by-side is when you see the differences.

Absolutely, yeah. It’s not only the colour profiles, but it’s the depth of the complexity in these wines, and being able to walk through it with the actual winemaker, him or herself, explaining their product. And also, as Monique mentioned, adding that historical perspective to where this wine came from. They speak to the family, they speak to their terroir, they speak to emerging trends in, so in this case, in Catalonia, in northeastern Spain, and just give us so much information on the wine itself and where it’s come from.

Yeah, no, there’s nothing like it. And I think, you know, this is probably the next best thing to traveling to the region. You’re talking to the winemaker, you’re tasting the wines, you’re comparing side-by-side, you’re doing food pairings, I’m sure, at certain events. I mean, it’s just the next best thing, I think, to traveling to the country, it sounds like.

Definitely. Back to the topic on one of the things that we learned or surprised us about Van Wine Fest, more specific to that was what surprised us about cava, ’cause I was in that seminar too, was that we have access to mostly the entry market labels of cava, and what we had the opportunity to do was to try all the upper brands or the upper echelons of cava. So, we all know Freixenet, and we know it’s a great value wine, it’s delicious, it works very well for many different occasions, it’s crowd-pleasing, it’s amazing, it’s just one of my favorite bubblies to go to. And we tasted what would essentially be a vintage, single vineyard type of cava. That’s one of their most premiere brands that the House of Freixenet produces, and it’s called the Cansala. So, that label is a whole new tier, in a sense, of cava perfection, if I’m allowed to say that. I think so, anyway.

Is it available on the market? Can we buy it?


Not yet, no, okay. They do have upper tiers, but yeah, that sounds even above.

Yeah, and it extends beyond that. So, we have seen the Elyssia labels. You might’ve seen that–

Yeah, that’s it, that’s the one I’m thinking of, yeah.

That we tried some of those too, and they do, they also do, well, cava is mostly made with native varietals from the Penedes region, but some of them they do with pinot noir. So, they have an Elyssia that they made that was a rosé bubbly made from pinot noir, and it was delightful. I think that was the one we started with. And then also, other brands that we don’t necessarily enjoy a lot. They had, so, you don’t have to remember this, there’s not going to be a test, but the names of the grapes, I love them. Some of them are like my passwords to certain things, if you can find out how to spell them. But it’s like–

You’re safe.


I’m safe, yeah. So, it’s, one of the main grapes is Xarel·lo, Macabeo, and Perletta. And they would have, it’s a blend of those grapes, and what I discovered was what I tasted was cava, just from Xarel·lo, the Xarel·lo grape, and we’re like, wow, who knew that this grape could make such outstanding varietals? Or just this varietal can make such outstanding sparkling wine? And other brands like Parés Baltà, a fully organic winery, trying a whole new angle on the cava production, you know, organic, almost biodynamic, depending on which vineyards they use. Another favorite would probably be Juvé & Camps, or Juvé & Camps, sorry. That’s the house that made the 100% Xarel·lo wine.



And we’ve got some questions coming in too, if you guys don’t mind. Jane Staples says, “Actually, we have access to ” Segura Viudas.” I can never pronounce these.

Sigura Viudas.

There you go, I’m always writing them, but never pronouncing them. Doesn’t get any better, yes, those are great. Lois Gilbert says, “Which area in Spain “is producing the best cava, “according to you folks?” What would you say?

Well, cava’s, I want to say historical home, in a sense, or not historical, but the place with the most production and the longest production would be in the Penedes region. So, that is–

Is that north in the country?

So, Barcelona, you know there, it’s just south of Barcelona there’s a little town called Sitges, and a few minutes into, ’cause that’s on the coast, that’s where you find Penedes, and they also do produce cava all over Spain, though, so the DO, the Democrat–

The Denominacion de Origen. The quality designation, yes.

Origin is, the biggest one is in Penedes, but other areas in Spain can produce cavas as well, under the DO of cava. We could expect that to change a little bit, so they highlight Penedes a little bit more in the future.

It’s a specialist area.

Totally, yeah.

And we’ve got Lori Kilmartin “enjoyed watching your trip to Vancouver on Instagram”. Ah, you guys were active on Instagram when you were there. Yeah, you’re big on social media, I know that, yeah. So, how do you keep it straight? How do you remember all of this? Like, you’re getting good recall here, but what tools are you using? My larger question is, how can people remember everything they’re tasting, and all this information? It seems overwhelming. What are your tips and tricks to remember this?

I can take a stab at that. So, in the masterclasses, the Vancouver International Wine Festival, as many said, is uber organized, and so when you arrive in these masterclasses, you’ll actually have a notepad, a pen is provided to you, sometimes they’ll be providing you with tasting notes and information on the region itself in writing, so you’re actually getting booklets as part of the package. And so, it’s really easy to take your notes, you know? It’s very easy to take your notes around tasting notes, and also what these amazing people at the front table are actually telling you.

Good, good, good, good. And so, what else, what are other ways to get the most out of a wine show? Even if it’s not the Vancouver Wine Fest, like, your plan of attack, or how do you get the most out of a wine show at all? Like, any wine show?

I think you need to answer what is most important to you when you do that. Is it important for you to, what’s your agenda going to a wine show, in a sense? Are you going to learn, are you going to network, are you going to taste wines as much as you can, are you going to taste new wines you’ve never tasted before? So, for me, I mean, I have a very big checklist that is probably too ambitious, and I always feel like, okay, I’m just setting myself up for defeat, but it’s never the case. You have to be flexible and open to different discoveries as well. So, I’m a learner. There’s never enough I can learn about wine, and anything in the wine world, and the culture and the food connection with wine, with people, so I go wanting to learn more. And I remember because I listen to the stories.

Right, the stories really embed it, don’t they?

They do.

The learning, the facts are boring, but the stories, when they’re woven into a story, really, you remember. But I love what you said at the beginning. You know, what’s your intention, what’s your goal? Is it to network, is it to taste? And you know, you can get even more micro from that. I just want to really taste as many Shiraz as I can from different regions. Like, I want to learn all about that grape, that one grape, and that can be your goal. Do you have something you go in with, John?

Well, it was interesting this year. I noticed that, so I have an environmental civil engineering background, underneath of my executive coaching practice, and so when people start talking about climate change in the wine industry, it piques my attention. And this year what I noticed is that many winemakers were asking questions and making comments about the impacts of climate change on their terroir, on their products, on the grapes, on the vines, and on their business. And so, for an example, you know, the climate change angle, because of my personal values, that I paid attention to.

Sure, and that was your filter going through the show?

That was one of the filters, you know, when people would speak to that, I would take notes on it. You know, this is really interesting. So, what is dry harvest? What are the impacts of the variability of rain at typical picking time? So, there’s so many aspects that you tend to pay attention to, but I agree with Monique, it’s really based on your own values and your own interests and expectations.

Yeah, something for everyone.

Yeah, yeah, for somebody who’s interested in the future and heavily invested in the future, you’d ask about what’s coming up, and what are you seeing in your specific terroir, in your country, with your DO? What is that, what’s up and coming that you’d like the world to know about your DO, about your business, about trends that are showing up that would be really sexy for people to know about?

Yeah, yeah, dinner party conversation. You’re in the know. That’s great. Guys, if you’re enjoying this conversation, please take a moment to share it. You can comment if you like and follow so you know when we go live. Of course, you can always click the “Get Reminder” on the page. At the end of this broadcast, I will be drawing for the winner of last week’s contest who did that, shared, liked, followed, et cetera, for a signed copy of Forbes columnist wine book, Hungry for Wine so, I hear there’s some pretty wild dinners, I mean, in terms of wild, over the top, sumptuous, the pairings. What was the most memorable dinner you’ve been to, the greatest pairings that you remember? Whether, again, it’s this year or previous years.

Oh, that’s a tough question.

It’s tough to pick!

Because they are designed to perfection.

Are they like eight courses or something? Like, are they multiple, multiple courses?

They are, there are at least four or five. And you have to remember, we’re in Vancouver. It’s one of the most gastronomic places we can visit in Canada.

That is true.

So, that’s usually at the top of my list, yeah, my ambitious agenda is always to make it to one of these dinners, and to try a restaurant that I haven’t tried before. So we did, we did do a winery dinner, and we kind of ventured on our own because we have our own little tastes and whatnot. You might see a picture of a taco pop up every now and again, and an iced coffee because when we don’t have to wake up at 9:00am for a seminar, that’s what we venture out to explore, the food scene in Vancouver. I went to the Choppino restaurant, very highly rated, highly reviewed. They’ve won many awards, many Sommelier of the Year awards, great wine lists, like as soon as you walk in, there’s this giant fridge of beautiful Italian super Tuscans, and Borolos, and Spanish, oh my gosh, it just goes on forever. And I was at a dinner where the wines came from Niepoort Wines from Portugal. I can’t remember the wine from Spain, it starts with an A. It’s not that one.

No, not the Alviers that we have here tonight.

Okay, that’s all right.

No, no, it’s, I’ll get back to you on it, I’ll remember it, it’ll come to me.

It’s the only thing you’ve forgotten tonight, amazing. Good for you.

But yeah, and the food, it was sort of regionally paired, so that chefs probably worked together with the wineries to produce something that would try to showcase and highlight whatever it is we need to know about pairing Portuguese wines and Spanish wines with meats, and seafood, and you know, there’s always an element of seafood in there, ’cause we’re in Vancouver, and I always notice a respect for regions where there might be braised meats of a certain kind, or game meats of a certain kind. And you meet famous people there. You meet the winemaker, you meet the winery owner, you meet their family if they’re there, you may very well meet a member of the foreign counsel, the consulate, so either somebody who works in the embassy, or someone to that extent. And they are great listeners. They want to know, like, what brought you here, why are you excited about our wines, and you know, just very humble, yet exciting, fun conversations to be had at these dinners. You never know who you’re going to meet.

No, that’s fantastic. Wow, comments are coming in here, folks. Steven Andrews asks, “Did you taste any good Mencia wines?” Am I pronouncing that correctly? Mensia or Mensha?


Taste any of those?

I can’t recall.

No worries, next question. No, I’m sure there’s so many there. So Steven, we’ll get back to on that, but Rochelle says “Great guests tonight, Natalie. Loved following your trip, Monique and John. “Amazing people and dynamite sommeliers. “What will be your next wine adventure?” Have you got something planned? I know you want to go back next year, right? So we may as well go to that before we forget about that. So, each year is a theme country. What’s next year?


It’s actually not a country, it’s a region!

But it’s big enough, it’s big enough.

To be a country, yeah.

The diversity of California is going to be beautiful.

And they drop little hints every now and again. They had a nice evening called the California Crush just ahead of the opening of the tasting floor. I think it was on a Wednesday night, festival tasting floor opened on a Thursday evening, and there was a seminar that was, it wasn’t just for trade, it was for consumers overall called Pinots of California, or California’s Greatest Pinots, that type of thing, and I attended that seminar. The panel speaker was DJ Kearney. She’s very funny.

DC writer, yeah.

And very engaging with her audience, and then a whole panel of all of these great California producers, right? And so after that we thought, I think I was in the Friday night. We’re like, okay, some things got to be out. There’s a little bit of California coming out everywhere, and they always announced it right at the end of the, almost at the end of the show on Saturday night. So yes, the festival is a full week. Like, it’s intense.

That is intense. So wow, California, that’s going to be huge next year. So it’s usually in late February, right? Is it sort of the last week of February over here?

Around that area, yeah.

Or maybe a litter earlier. I can’t remember when exactly–

It was mid-February last year.

Okay, yeah, yeah, and a little bit later this year.

Okay, cool, that’s awesome. Did you have any food by Ned Bell. Is that a restaurateur, or, no, maybe I should. That’s all right, Lori Kilmartin wrote, “were there a lot of BC wineries there, “even though the focus was on other countries?” So you just still get other wineries just exhibiting there?

Yeah, so last year, given it was, so not this year, but in 2017, Canada was the host region, and so we had a diverse community of Canadian wine come throughout the country, and it took significant effort to do that, because a lot of our wineries are smaller.

That’s right, and we have this inter-provincial trade barrier thing going on.

Yeah, which Europeans don’t really understand.

I’m sure no one does.

Why do you have vertical barriers between your provinces?

I’m sure that’s coming to an end very, very soon.

Let’s hope so.

Yeah, go ahead, okay.

Some of, just to highlight a few, I definitely did venture to British Columbia’s section and enjoyed quite a bit of yummy wines there. Some that stand out for us was probably Casinin Cellars. Beautiful Bordeaux-style, but I don’t want to say Bordeaux, ’cause it’s BC, so big, beautiful BC style reds. Cedar Creek was another phenomenal producer, Painted Rock, Bubbly from Cellars J was exciting to actually have a sparkling Shiraz. We won’t get it in Ontario, so don’t look. But if you’re in BC and you’re in the Okanagan, and you want to try a sparkling Shiraz that’s not from Australia.

Sure, sure, sounds interesting, yeah.

It was beautiful.

Yeah, and lots of love. Smaller little wineries like Haywire, that was awesome, Timberwood Creek. Yeah, those were some memorable ones.

So it’s not just the theme country, there’s other countries? Would it be just BC and the other country or many countries are still there, or other countries?


So, you can walk up to, if you check out Bespoke Tastings on Instagram, you can check out some of the wines that we’ve actually sampled.

Bespoke Tastings.

Yeah, Bespoke, as in customized.

Right, customized.

Yeah, we’ll show you our Instagram and Twitter accounts, we’ll show you some of the wines that we’ve tasted.

Is that a website too, BespokeTastings.com or .ca?

Do we have a website?

Working on it.

Coming soon, go to Instagram first then.

But also, people can go to vanwinefest.ca, I think is the festival sight, right, for the info for next year.

You’ll see a full list of, I think almost 180 wineries featured.

Wow, that’s hefty.

It’s quite big, yeah.


You’ll find a lot of stuff on that Twitter hashtag as well.

And Instagram.

And Instagram, yeah.

Good, well we know where to find you in the Festival. Is there anything that you haven’t covered off that you wanted to add at this point?

Well, we know we’re going next year, and we know it’s California.

Awesome, so we’ll have to follow you on Instagram to see what, or hopefully people who are watching this will be very convinced to go themselves, maybe meet you there.

It would be fantastic for more comedians to be able to access this festival. It is exceptional.

Yeah, it really does, it separates itself from all of the other shields out there, I think, not just in Canada, but around the world too.

There’s a sense of community in Vancouver too, so it’s not just, like, the festival. We go to a restaurant across the street. Maybe that’s a little bit too close, but maybe two blocks down the street and they could tell, they were like, “Hey, you guys were at Van Wine Fest, eh?” Like, “We have this happy hour going on “for Van Wine Fest Folks, you want to try?” Yeah, our people, we’re wearing our little name tags or badges and people notice that and they’re like, “Oh, I didn’t see you there,” and meeting a lot of the people in the trade in Vancouver who attend the festival floor. That’s really fun too, a lot of fun. They’re really supportive of their trade population there. They have an amazing Sommelier of the Year award. That is highly intensive.

Sean Nielson, I interviewed him and Vij like about a month ago. Dynamite duo, with the pairings, yeah, and just his knowledge.

Absolutely, and then you just see these people walking down the festival and you kind of want to see, like, what are they trying? What are they going for? I’m going to shadow them for two visits, but then you get distracted by somebody else. It’s really fun. It’s exciting, you never know who you’re going to meet.

That is so cool.

Rubbing elbows with masters of wine throughout the room.

You’re just seeped in it.

Yeah, the stories and their presence with you. They’re really amazing people.

Fantastic, as are you two. Thank you so much for joining us here on the Sunday Sipper Club this Sunday. I really appreciate it, it was great. Let’s have a cheers before you guys–


Exit stage left.


Stay with us, folks.


Cheers. I’ve got some announcements coming up guys, so don’t go away, but thank you again, folks. I know you’re, well, you’re still tasting downstairs. We’re having a team tasting today, so you have some more wine to taste, all right?

Absolutely, I’d love to lean into this, this Alver Bitter Ximénez. It’s a vintage 2015. Gorgeous.

That’s good. All right guys, talk to you later.

Thanks, Natalie, cheers.

Okay, thanks to you both. All right, guys, wasn’t that great? Great conversation, okay. And Matt Steve says, “Great video, Somm friends. “There were lots of great BC wines too.” Matt was out there as well. “Cedar Creek, Painted Rock, Casini Cellars, yeah, “stood out as outstanding.” Debora Podrugiel, Asoyos Laroz, grand vin, yum. “Oculus,” says Steven Andrews. Deb: “I think you need to take several days “to be able to approach a lot of the wines.” Yes, sure is, it takes a lot of time to do all of that. All right, folks, so as we’re wrapping up, I would love for you to post in the comments. What was the most interesting thing that you learned tonight? I’d love to know, whether it was about the Vancouver Wine Fest, or about the wines we talked about, anything like that.








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