France’s Rhône Valley wine region took the spotlight at last week’s sold-out Celebrating Excellence: 11th Annual Awards Lunch. This Vancouver International Wine Fest event brings out the entire BC wine industry for a delicious lunch at the Vancouver Convention Centre, as well as the presentation of several key awards.
Sponsored by ContainerWorld, the Celebrating Excellence program honours industry professionals who contribute to our region’s exceptional wine and food culture.
Fred Lee emceed the event. Each table was provided a couple of bottles of Rhône Valley wines to enjoy with the buffet-style lunch, prepared by executive chef Blair Rasmussen.
My lunch was enhanced by sipping (and savouring) 2012 Brunel de la Gardine.
The Spirited Industry Professional (SIP) Award, Sommelier of the Year, Wine List Awards and Blind Tasting Challenge Award are some of the most coveted awards in the BC wine industry.
The Spirited Industry Professional Award honours an individual who makes significant contributions to the sales, service or promotion of wine in BC. 2014’s recipient is Mark Davidson, education director for Wine Australia USA, and former BC representative for the creation of a Canadian National Standard for Wine Service.
The Sommelier of the Year award was given to Mike Bernardo of Vij’s Group. Mike serves as Vij’s wine director and is also a Vancouver Magazine contributor.
On February 26, wine trade and service professionals, culinarians, and non-professional connoisseurs alike competed in the Blind Tasting Challenge, blind-tasting seven wines and identifying them using the Wine and Spirit Education Trust’s Systematic Approach to Tasting. This year’s Blind Tasting Challenge winners were Brian Glaum (consumer), David Winzer (culinarian), and Angela Wall (trade).
Being included in the wine awards is considered great feedback for your winery. 60 hours of tasting and judging (this year by Michelle Bouffard, Tom Doughty, DJ Kearney, Iain Philip and Terry Threlfall) is nothing to take lightly! Wine critic DJ Kearney added, “an honourable mention matters”.
Richard Carras of BC Hospitality Foundation also spoke out on behalf of the organization, with the request to take one of the BCHF business cards on the table and pass it along to someone who can either help the organization, or might benefit from its vital resources.
Here’s the Wine List Awards, celebrating and honouring the best food and wine pairings in the business in BC and Alberta restaurants. Congratulations to all winners!
Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar
Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca
Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House
La Pentola della Quercia
Tableau Bar Bistro
The Wine Room at Joey Bentall One
Zest Japanese Cuisine
Burdock & Co. – Best New Entry, Vancouver
Edible Canada at the Market
Homer St. Cafe and Bar
Nicli Antica Pizzeria
Provence Marinaside & The Wine Bar
Salt Tasting Room
Lift Bar Grill View
The Fish House in Stanley Park
The Oakwood Canadian Bistro
Tap & Barrel Coal Harbour
Tramonto at River Rock Casino Resort
Via Tevere Pizzeria
Araxi Restaurant + Bar
VICTORIA AND SUNSHINE COAST
The Restaurant at Painted Boat Resort Spa & Marina (Madeira Park)
Little Jumbo – Best New Entry, Victoria
The Pacific Restaurant & Terrace at the Hotel Grand Pacific
Stage Wine Bar
Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio at the Inn at Laurel Point
Emerald Lake Lodge (Field)
La Bussola Restaurant (Kelowna)
Watermark Wine Bar & Patio (Osoyoos)
CALGARY AND THE ROCKIES
Divino Wine & Cheese Bistro
Vin Room Mission
Vin Room West
Buffalo Mountain Lodge