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Christopher Gaze, Sophie Lui, Harry Hertscheg

The Vancouver International Wine Festival got underway with perennial cork-popping favorite opener Bacchanalia Gala dinner and auction held at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver on February 22.

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This year saw the kickoff charity event ahead of the festival itself, where in past years, the Gala’s been held on the Tuesday evening following the start of the festival.

Anna Manchon of Torres, Mikael Falkman of Taittinger
[Anna Manchon of Torres, Mikael Falkman of Taittinger]

“This year’s Gala was another smashing success, thanks to the generosity of our donors and our distinguished Gala guests, who continue to surprise and delight us with their support of the arts,” said Gala chair Brenda McAllister.

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Bubbly was poured during a sparkling champagne reception ahead of the lavish Gala, sponsored by Vancouver Wine Vault and Deloitte. 

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Following the reception, 400 guests sipped on nine wines paired with five exquisite courses created by Fairmont’s executive chef, Cameron Ballendine.

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Guests placed their bids on coveted silent auction items including culinary excursions, one-of-a-kind experiences and collectible treasures, while the co-emcees—Global BC personality Sophie Lui and Bard on the Beach Artistic Director Christopher Gaze—kept the evening flowing.

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Gala raffle tickets were sold throughout the evening, boasting an attractive prize of a seven-night, all-inclusive stay in Martinique at Club Med les Boucaniers. Bard on the Beach played a central role at the Gala, providing beautifully embellished costumes from Bard on the Beach productions throughout the ballroom.

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During the cheese course, Howard Blank of Great Canadian Casinos led the live auction, which brought in more than an estimated $60,000 for Bard on the Beach.

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A few auction highlights included an unforgettable culinary experience at Bearfoot Bistro and a theatrical dinner for eight hosted by Christopher Gaze, featuring a meal by Araxi, wines from Sandhill, and set onstage at Bard on the Beach — sold for a cool $8,000.

In a spontaneous twist, Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal, owner of Château Angelus, added a last-minute auction item: dinner and stay at the winery’s chateau, which sold for close to $10,000.

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“We were delighted by the turnout at the Gala and overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and generosity of the bidders,” said Christopher Gaze, Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach. “The Wine Festival is fundamental to sustaining Bard throughout the year, and we’re extremely grateful to those who put their firm support behind Vancouver’s arts community.”

Stay tuned for more Vancouver International Wine Festival coverage. I’ll be attending today’s industry Wine Awards Lunch and trade tasting at the International Festival Tasting Room. Here’s raising a glass to both the Wine Festival and to Bard on the Beach, two wonderful organizations that definitely benefit from one another’s good company.

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