Welcome to your Best Ever Guide to British Columbia Wine Tasting Festivals and Events!

If you’re a wine lover in British Columbia, attending a wine festival can be a thrilling experience. However, for those new to these events, they may seem overwhelming or even intimidating. With dozens of wineries showcasing their best wines, it can be challenging to know how to navigate the festival without feeling bogged down by questions of etiquette or strategy.

BC Wine Tasting Events & Festivals Guide

british columbia wine festivals featured

At British Columbia’s wine festivals, such as the Vancouver International Wine Festival or the Okanagan Wine Festivals, there are hundreds of world-class wines to taste, and it’s essential to have a plan to make the most of your time. Here, our team shares their advice, gleaned from personal experience and interviews with wine professionals, on how to attend and enjoy a wine festival in British Columbia.

Okanagan Wine Tasting Festivals & Events

Big Reds at Big White

Big Reds at Big White is an annual wine festival held in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, specifically at the Big White Ski Resort. The festival is typically held in April and features a wide variety of red wines from wineries in the region, as well as food pairings and live entertainment. Attendees can also participate in educational seminars and wine tastings led by industry professionals. The festival offers a unique experience for wine enthusiasts who can enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery while sampling some of the best wines in the region. Big Reds at Big White has become a popular event for locals and tourists alike and is a great way to discover and appreciate the world-class wines produced in the Okanagan Valley.

Half Corked Marathon

The 15th annual Half Corked Marathon in Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country with the theme of “Back to the Future.” Get ready with your costumes to participate in this unique run that takes you through the stunning vineyards and valleys of the region’s iconic wine-growing areas – the Black Sage Road and Golden Mile Bench, along with sections along the beautiful Okanagan River. Along the 24km route, there will be winery stations where you can engage with the region’s colourful characters and enjoy wine samples. In addition to the run, you can also join us for the Primavera Dinner on Friday June 26th, hosted at a picturesque long-table in the vineyard. On Saturday night after the run, you can attend Dinner on the Farm, an intimate alfresco setting hosted by winemakers. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to explore the region and experience its delicious wines.

Okanagan Wine Festivals

The Okanagan Wine Festivals Society produces three seasonal festivals annually, featuring over 100 wine-related events in the Okanagan Valley – one of the world’s most renowned wine regions. The festivals take place in the fall, winter, and spring, and are an excellent opportunity for wine enthusiasts to sample some of the region’s best wines, as well as attend educational seminars, culinary events, and live entertainment. The Society also hosts an annual wine competition, where judges assess wines from around the world. With its breathtaking scenery, world-class wines, and diverse range of events, the Okanagan Wine Festivals have become a must-visit destination for wine lovers from all over the world.

Vancouver / Coast / Island Wine Tasting Festivals & Events

Vancouver International Wine Festival

The Vancouver International Wine Festival is an annual wine festival held in Vancouver, British Columbia. The festival is one of the largest and oldest wine events in the world, featuring over 700 wines from 16 different countries. The festival typically takes place over several days in April and offers a range of events, including tastings, educational seminars, and food pairings.

Cowichan Valley Wine Festival

The Cowichan Valley Wine Festival is an annual wine festival held in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The festival celebrates the wines of the region and showcases the local wineries and vineyards. The festival typically takes place in September and offers a range of events, including tastings, vineyard tours, and food pairings. Attendees have the opportunity to meet and learn from winemakers and viticulturists, and discover the unique wines produced in the Cowichan Valley. The festival also features live music and entertainment, making it a fun and lively event for both locals and tourists.

Victoria International Wine Festival

The Victoria International Wine Festival is Victoria’s premier wine tasting event that showcases exclusive international wines from around the world. The festival offers entry to the tasting room and includes all wine tastings in the ticket price. VICWF is committed to presenting wines that offer good value to the average consumer, ensuring that attendees leave with knowledge of new wines that won’t break the bank. The festival is open to all levels of wine enthusiasts and prides itself on providing an engaging and welcoming atmosphere.

Cornucopia Whistler

Indulge your taste buds in the ultimate food and drink experience at Cornucopia, Whistler’s annual fall festival. This event is a haven for foodies and wine enthusiasts alike, offering countless opportunities to explore and expand your palate while celebrating Whistler’s renowned culinary scene. Come join us in the mountains for delectable tastings, captivating culinary demos, sumptuous chef luncheons, informative drink seminars, winemaker dinners, and so much more. Don’t miss out on this epicurean adventure!

Wine Tasting Event Tips: Make the Most of Your Wine Festival Experience

Plan ahead:

Before attending a British Columbia Wine Festival, it’s essential to do some research. Find out which wineries will be participating and what types of wines they will be showcasing. This will help you plan which wineries to visit and which wines to taste. Also, check the festival schedule to see if there are any seminars, workshops or other events that may interest you. You don’t want to miss out on any unique experiences that could add to your overall enjoyment of the festival.

Dress appropriately:

Spills and accidental bumps are common, and they can quickly ruin your outfit. To avoid such mishaps, it’s a good idea to dress in dark colours. Dark clothing not only hides stains, but it also looks dressier and more appropriate for an evening event. Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a lot of walking and standing. Wear layers so that you can add or remove clothing as needed depending on the weather, if it outdoors. Sunscreen and a hat are also good ideas if it’s going to be a sunny day.

No scents:

It’s common sense, folks – don’t be the stinky person at a wine tasting. That means no perfume, no cigarettes, no vaping – nothing that could interfere with the olfactory and sensory experience of tasting wine.

Taste strategically:

It’s impossible to taste every wine at a wine festival, so you need to be strategic about which ones to taste. Pick the regions or varietals that interest you the most and focus on those. Also, try to taste different styles of wine, such as reds, whites, and rosés, so that you can experience a range of flavours and aromas.

Spit or dump:

Wine festivals are all about tasting, but it’s important to taste responsibly. Not only should you not feel obligated to finish every pour, but you should spit or dump the wine into the provided buckets to avoid overindulging. You will be tasting many wines, so you want to be able to enjoy the experience without becoming intoxicated if you gulp down every pour.

Stay hydrated:

Drinking water between tastings is essential to staying hydrated and refreshed. It also helps to cleanse your palate between wines, so that you can taste each wine with a fresh perspective. Many wine festivals will have water stations throughout the venue, so take advantage of them.

Prepare and Pace yourself:

Fuel up with a satisfying meal beforehand. This can help slow down the absorption of alcohol into your system. Wine festivals can be a long day, so it’s important to pace yourself. Take breaks when you need to and don’t rush through the tastings. By taking it slow and steady, you’ll be able to enjoy the festival without feeling overwhelmed or exhausted.

Ask questions:

Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the winery representatives. They are there to share their knowledge and passion for wine, so take advantage of their expertise. Ask them about the wines they are pouring, the winemaking process, or anything else that interests you. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about wine and the people who make it.

Take notes:

With so many wines to taste, it can be easy to forget which ones you liked best. Take notes on the wines you taste, including the name, region, and any other details you want to remember. You can use a notebook, an app, or simply scan a photo of the label with a wine app. This will help you remember which wines to look for in the future.

Have fun and get home safe:

Ultimately, wine festivals are all about having fun. Enjoy the music, food, and company of other wine enthusiasts. Savour the experience of discovering new wines and wineries. Don’t take it too seriously, and remember that everyone is there to celebrate the love of wine. But most importantly, even if you are spitting, it is important to arrange a safe ride home.


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