Home Industry News Releases Meet the Vancouver International Wine Festival Vine Stars

Meet the Vancouver International Wine Festival Vine Stars


VANCOUVER, BC (January 18, 2017) — Vine stars from around the world will travel to Vancouver for the 39th Vancouver International Wine Festival, February 11 to 19 at the Vancouver Convention Centre and other venues in Metro Vancouver.

Each of the 180 wineries from the 16 participating countries will send a high-level representative (owner, winemaker, senior executive) to the festival to present their wines. They’ll participate in educational seminars, team up with Vancouver’s best restaurants for exclusive dinners and sample a selection of their wines in the Tasting Room. This year the theme country is Canada, which is bringing vine stars from across the country to Vancouver this February. For details on the 54 festival events, check out the interactive Festival at a Glance, updated regularly with sales status.

“We are thrilled to welcome top winemakers, owners and senior winery representatives to our festival each year,” says Harry Hertscheg, VIWF executive director. “Festivalgoers will have the opportunity to meet the people directly responsible for the wines they are tasting, and principals from across Canada and around the wine world can connect to share ideas, projects and opportunities.” Winery principals are identified by a royal blue lanyard at events.


All 76 participating wineries from British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia will have a principal in attendance in the Wines of Canada section of the Tasting Room and at the cross-country culinary journey on Saturday, February 18, Celebrate Canada’s 150th.

Glenn Fawcett, President, Black Hills Estate Winery, British Columbia

Glenn is responsible for running the business and sales and marketing end of Black Hills. As an entrepreneur, he was involved in running high-end wine tours of the Okanagan before joining Black Hills. Prior to that, he was president and owner of Bust Loose Holidays, one of Canada’s most successful tour companies for university and college students. Meet Glenn at BC’s Original Icon; The Benchmarks

Pedro Parra, Terroir Expert, Haywire, British Columbia

Pedro Parra is a wine terroir expert, who received his training in France. His clients are located in Chile, Argentina, Italy, Sonoma, Oregon, Armenia, Uruguay, Burgundy and in British Columbia, for Okanagan Crush Pad. He helped create Clos des Fous, a winery that explores the very extreme terroirs of Chile and more recently launched his own portfolio of wines under the Parra Y Familia label. Meet Pedro at BC: Diversity & Purity; BC Pioneers & New Kids; Heartbreak & Backache

Darryl Brooker, Vice President Winemaking, Mission Hill Family Estate, British Columbia

Darryl Brooker has more than 18 years of experience making premium wines in Canada, New Zealand, and in his native Australia. As Chief Winemaker at Mission Hill Family Estate, Darryl focuses his efforts on making fine wines that reflect the terroir and unique estate vineyard sites in the Okanagan Valley. Meet Darryl at Oculus Retrospective; Redefining the Okanagan; Canada Coast to Coast; Okanagan Estate Collection

Randy Picton, Winemaker, Nk’Mip Cellars, British Columbia

In 2002, Randy Picton was named Nk’Mip’s first winemaker. Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Picton completed the Winery Assistant Program at Okanagan College. He interned at CedarCreek Estate Winery, joining the winery after graduation and rising quickly up the ranks. Picton, a non-native, is training youths from the Osoyoos Indian Band to assume winemaking duties for Nk’Mip Cellars. Meet Randy at The Wine Economy in Canada (reception); Wines of Canada Party

Ann Sperling, Owner / Winemaker, Sperling Vineyards, British Columbia

Considered a leading force in the Canadian movement towards organic and biodynamic fine winemaking, Ann has over two decades of experience in winegrowing, winemaking and consulting for successful winery startups. Raised on a family vineyard in Kelowna, BC, Ann’s talents were recognized in the early nineties when her 1992 Merlot took the Gold medal at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in the UK and Platinum at the Okanagan Wine Festival. In 2004, Ann was awarded with Winemaker of the Year at the Ontario Wine Awards. Meet Ann at I Heart Bubbly Party; The Wine Economy in Canada (reception); Wines of Canada Party; Heartbreak & Backache; BC Pioneers & New Kids; 25 Under $25

Ezra Cipes, CEO, Summerhill Pyramid Winery, British Columbia

As a second-generation operator, Ezra Cipes feels blessed that his personal dharma led to such a beautiful industry. Recently Ezra has taken a leadership role in the BC wine industry as a director of the CVA and BCWI, and the chair of the BC Wine Appellation Task Group that tabled its recommendations in November, 2015. Meet Ezra at Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction; Canada on the World Stage; BC: Diversity & Purity; Wines of Canada Party; Canada Coast to Coast; Sparkling Wines of Canada; 14th Annual Awards Lunch; Vintners Brunch

David Paterson, GM / Winemaker, Tantalus, British Columbia

David Paterson fills the shoes of Tantalus Vineyard’s GM/winemaker. He received his winemaking degree from Lincoln University, New Zealand, and following time spent working in the local NZ industry, he travelled the wine world gaining experience at premium wineries in Oregon, France and Australia. He landed at Tantalus in 2009 and with seven successful vintages under his belt he took on the role of GM as well in 2016. Meet David at There’s No Place Like BC; BC: Diversity & Purity; Canada Coast to Coast; Heartbreak & Backache; 25 Under $25

Tim Turyk, President, Unsworth Vineyards, British Columbia

After 40+ years in BC’s fishing industry, Tim was looking for a new project. Having grown up in Victoria and Shawnigan Lake watching the rapidly evolving wine and food culture of the Cowichan Valley, he purchased a small vineyard and winery in the fall of 2009 and released Unsworth’s first vintage two years later. Meet Tim at BC: Diversity & Purity; Wines of Canada Party

Paul Bosc, President And CEO, Château Des Charmes, Ontario

Paul is a fifth-generation French winegrower who graduated from the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France with degrees in Viticulture and Oenology. His wines have been awarded medals at numerous national and international wine competitions. He has been the recipient of many honours, including The Order of Ontario, The Order of Canada, and the LCBO Special Recognition Award. Meet Paul at Ontario’s Star Whites; Canada Coast to Coast; Discover Ontario’s Cool; Trans Canada Tasting

Keith Tyers, Winemaker, Closson Chase, Ontario

Keith Tyers, a graduate of the International Sommelier Guild program (Humber College), began work at Closson Chase in 2003 as a vineyard hand. 2004 he was promoted to Assistant Winemaker working under Deborah Paskus until 2009. After a two-year hiatus as a wine consultant, he returned to Closson Chase as retail manager. In 2015, he was promoted to winemaker. Meet Keith at Poised for Pinot; Wines of Canada Party; Canada Coast to Coast; 14th Annual Awards Lunch; Trans Canada Tasting

Allison Christ, Winemaker, Colio Estate Wines, Ontario

Allison Christ began fostering her winemaking skills with an Honours BSc. in Chemistry/Mathematics from the University of Windsor, followed by harvest experience in small and large winery settings, and serving as president of the Windsor Essex Chapter of the Ontario Wine Society. Allison brings her passion to all facets of cellar and winery operations with a focus on harvest, fermentation, blending and bottling. She works in partnership with the vineyard manager to ensure that quality parameters are met throughout the growing season and at harvest. Meet Allison at I Heart Bubbly Party; Wines of Canada Party; Discover Ontario’s Cool

Thomas Bachelder, Winemaker, Domaine Queylus, Ontario

Canada’s 2009 Winemaker of the Year, Thomas left his position as winemaker with Le Clos Jordanne to become a consultant, as well as winemaker and manager of Domaine Queylus. Wine lovers will recognize Thomas’ elegant European signature style. As the régisseur manager, Thomas is responsible for all the Domaine’s wine decisions. Meet Thomas at Poised for Pinot; Ontario’s Star Whites; Discover Ontario’s Cool; 14th Annual Awards Lunch

Harald Thiel, Vigneron / Proprietor, Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery, Ontario

In 2003, Harald and his brother sold their audio-visual business, permitting him to pursue his dream of owning an artisanal winery. Harald sits on a number of public, private and volunteer sector boards and is the former chairperson of Tourism Toronto and the International Communications Industry Association. (ICIA). Prior to starting Hidden Bench, Harald was one of the founders of the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo in Toronto and is also a founding partner in the Upper Canada Cheese Company in Jordan, Ontario. Meet Harald at Ontario’s Star Whites; Poised for Pinot; Canada Coast to Coast; Discover Ontario’s Cool; Heartbreak & Backache; Trans Canada Tasting

Bruce Nicholson, Winemaker, Inniskillin Niagara Estate, Ontario

Bruce Nicholson became Inniskillin Niagara Estate’s winemaker on January 1, 2007, after an outstanding career in the Okanagan, where he was Senior Winemaker for Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate. Born and raised in the Niagara Peninsula, Nicholson studied Sciences at Ontario’s Ryerson University and University of Windsor, and apprenticed in winemaking in Niagara before heading out to Western Canada. Meet Bruce at Ontario’s Star Whites; Poised for Pinot; The Wine Economy in Canada (reception); Wines of Canada Party; Canada Coast to Coast; Discover Ontario’s Cool; 14th Annual Awards Lunch

Marco Piccoli, Winemaker, Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate, Ontario

Marco worked in Italy, Germany and Argentina, gaining valuable experience in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. He earned a Master’s Degree in Grape Growing and Winemaking from the University of Udine and the University of Applied Science in Wiesbaden-Geisenheim. Marco interned at the Inniskillin Niagara Estate Winery and in 2005 became a winemaker at Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate. Meet Marco at I Heart Bubbly Party; The Wine Economy in Canada (reception); Wines of Canada Party; Discover Ontario’s Cool; Sparkling Wines of Canada; 14th Annual Awards Lunch

Jean-Benoit Deslauriers, Head Winemaker, Benjamin Bridge, Nova Scotia

Jean-Benoit joined Benjamin Bridge in 2008 after working at biodynamic and organic wineries in California and Chile. He handcrafts all of Benjamin Bridge’s classic method sparklings and still wines, with a focused style on grower wines and small lots from its certified organic vineyards, elevating the wine programs to new heights with national and international recognition. Meet Jean-Benoit at Canada Coast to Coast; Tales of Next World Wines; Sparkling Wines of Canada; Trans Canada Tasting

Carl Sparkes, Owner, Devonian Coast Wineries, Nova Scotia

Carl and Donna Sparkes founded Devonian Coast Wineries in 2011, purchased two established wineries, Jost and Gaspereau Vineyards, and soon began planning for a third. Devonian Coast Wineries unites their love of wine and of Atlantic Canada while bringing fresh ideas and commitment to elevating Nova Scotia’s expanding wine industry. Meet Carl at Trans Canada Tasting

Bruce Ewert, Owner / Winemaker, L’Acadie Vineyards, Nova Scotia

Bruce Ewert is an award-winning BC-born sparkling winemaker with 30 years’ experience in British Columbia, Ontario, California, Australia and now Nova Scotia. He and NS-born Pauline Scott established L’Acadie Vineyards in 2004, a certified organic vineyard and winery in Gaspereau Valley, specializing in traditional method sparkling wines. L’Acadie Vineyards has earned many accolades including top scoring Canadian sparkling wine at the 2010 Canadian Wine Awards, Best Sparkling at the Atlantic Canadian Wine awards and two medals at Effervescents du Monde in France. Meet Bruce at I Heart Bubbly Party; Wines of Canada Party; Sparkling Wines of Canada; 14th Annual Awards Lunch


Fifteen other countries are represented at VanWineFest, and the stars are shining just as brightly over the rest of the wine world. The Tasting Room is the place to meet all 180 vine stars, but you’ll also find these great personalities at special events during the week.

Pato Reich, Director, Bodega Renacer, Argentina

Patricio Reich Jr. has a degree in commercial engineering from the Adolfo Ibanez University in Chile and a Master’s Degree in Finance from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. From 2003 until 2006, Patricio worked in the treasurer department of Santander Bank, where he developed custom-made financial solutions for corporate clients. Currently he is in charge of Marketing and Sales for Bodega Renacer. Meet Pato at 25 Under $25

Justin Fairweather, Export Sales Director & Managing Director, Alpha Box & Dice, Australia

After years travelling the world studying winemaking across Australia, Italy, France and Moldova, AB&D’s founding winemaker Justin Lane returned to McLaren Vale with a unique and enterprising premise – creating an “Alphabet of Wine”. Forming Alpha Box & Dice as a laboratory for viticultural exploration in 2008, the team set upon constructing a different wine style to represent every letter of the alphabet. Meet Justin at PICA Kitchen Party; 25 Under $25; Alpha Box & Dice @ Chambar.

Margaux Bruckert, Export Manager, Wolfberger Cave Vinicole, France

Passionate about wines and qualified in International Business, Margaux gained a first working experience in a Champagne House. She decided to move home to Alsace, where she had the opportunity to join the Export team of Wolfberger. She is now promoting the wines and crémants of this winery in Europe, Japan and Canada. Meet Margaux at Canada on the World Stage

Nik Weis, Owner / Winemaker, Nik Weis St. Urbans-Hof, Germany

Nik is the third generation of the winery founded in 1947. Nik has worked in Champagne, California, and Canada’s Niagara Peninsula. As president of the Young Winemakers Association, he has been in the forefront to preserve and restore the traditions of German winemaking and has established St. Urbans-Hof as a clear leader in innovation and quality. Meet Nik at Canada on the World Stage; Heartbreak & Backache.

Sam Smail, Head Winemaker, Whitehaven, New Zealand

Sam has been with the Whitehaven since 2000. He graduated from the University of Canterbury in 1995 with a degree in Chemistry; a little travel, a little business, and the wish to use his science qualifications prompted him to complete a post-graduate degree at the University of Adelaide. He then headed for the Napa Valley, then Italy, before his winemaking career path led to Marlborough and Whitehaven. Meet Sam at Cool Climate, Cool View; Vintners Brunch

Daniel Castaño, Export Director / Family Member, Familia Castaño, Spain

Daniel Castaño is the third and youngest son of Ramon Castaño Santa, founder of Bodegas Castaño and 3rd generation of family winemakers in Southern Spain. He has worked at Castaño from an early age, starting first in the vineyard, then working in the winery (vinification), administration, and finally sales. Daniel studied business in Alicante and trained on a 4-week viticulture course in Adelaide, Barossa Valley. Meet Daniel at Tales of Next World Wines; 25 Under $25

Selim Ellialti, Owner / President, Suvla Wines, Turkey

Selim Ellialti graduated from Bogazici University in Istanbul and worked as a business executive in IT and other fields. In 2004, Selim joined Microsoft Turkey and became General Manager for Middle East and Africa in 2010. He left Microsoft in September 2011 to focus on his private wine (SUVLA) and natural agricultural products (KILYE) business, which he had founded in 2003. Meet Selim at PICA Kitchen Party; Vintners Brunch; Wine & Dine Great Terroirs.

Alec Griffiths, Export Director, Bodega Garzón, Uruguay

Alec Griffiths was born in Uruguay. The early part of his career in the wine industry saw Alec working for some of the largest wine brands from Chile and Argentina. As a native Uruguayan, he never dreamed he would return home to join the team for a state-of-the-art winery such as Bodega Garzón. Meet Alex at Canada on the World Stage; Tales of Next World Wines; PICA Kitchen Party; 25 Under $25.

Ondine Chattan, Winemaker, Geyser Peak, California

A native of Marin County, Ondine obtained an undergraduate degree in Viticulture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a Master’s Degree in Enology from Fresno State University. After college, her love of Zinfandel and Rhône varietals led her to positions at Cline Cellars in Sonoma Valley and Ridge Vineyards in Cupertino, before she settled down to her “winemaking home” in the Alexander Valley. Meet Ondine at California Cruisin’; Celebrating California Cabs

Joseph Spellman, Master Sommelier, Justin Vineyards & Winery, California

Joseph Spellman, MS, has worked as a sommelier in many Chicago’s top restaurant cellars; in wine retail, wholesale, and importing companies; and as a wine educator, writer, and consultant. Joseph earned the Master Sommelier Diploma in 1996. He was named the Best Sommelier in the World in French Wines & Spirits in 1997 and in 1998 named the Bon Appetit Wine & Spirits Professional of the Year. Meet Joseph at California Cruisin’

Shirley Brooks, VP of Sales & Marketing, Elk Cove Vineyards, Oregon

Shirley has been working at Elk Cove since March 2000. She travels the globe as brand ambassador for Elk Cove in markets new and old. Shirley is an active supporter of the Oregon wine industry and has served as a board member for both Oregon Pinot Camp and the Oregon Wine Board Export Committee. In her free time, you’ll find her outdoors enjoying one of Oregon’s great hiking trails or rivers. Meet Shirley at Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction; PICA Kitchen Party


Online: VanWineFest.ca
Phone: 604-873-3311, toll free 1-877-321-3121 (Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.)
In person: 202-162 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver (Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.)
*Note the new address – the festival moved offices to the BMO Theatre Centre in Olympic Village.
All ticket prices include wine, food (if a food event), gratuities, taxes and service charge.

Stay in Touch:

For more information, go to VanWineFest.ca and sign up for VanWineFest E-News.
Facebook & Instagram: /VanWineFest
Twitter: follow @VanWineFest for news on tickets and sold-out events. Join the conversation at #VIWF.


Canada’s premier wine show marks 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 180 wineries from 16 countries (including 76 wineries from Canada) pouring a projected 1,700 wines at 54 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 Trade Days Conference, presented by Sysco, takes place Wednesday, February 15 to Friday, February 17. The festival has been named the #1 Food, Wine & Hospitality Industry Event in Canada by New York’s BizBash for four years running.

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 sponsors are Delta Air Lines and the Vancouver Sun; 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.


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 to 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. Bard on the Beach offers Shakespeare plays, related dramas and popular special events in two performance tents every June through September. In 2016, attendance exceeded 100,000 and more than 1.4 million patrons have experienced Bard since its inception. This year’s festival dates are June 1 to September 23, 2017 and the lineup includes Much Ado About Nothing, The Winter’s Tale, The Merchant of Venice and The Two Gentlemen of Verona, plus a special limited-run presentation of Shylock. Bard also offers a range of education programs, including Young Shakespeareans Workshops for 8 to 18-year-olds at its Vanier Park site during the summer, and Riotous Youth for 19 to 24-year-olds. During the school term, Bard 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 (162 West 1st Avenue). Full details and education program information are at bardonthebeach.org.

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