My Journey as Keynote Speaker at Vancouver International Wine Festival

The Vancouver International Wine Festival (VIWF) stands as a beacon, providing an enlightening, educational, and entertaining experience for both consumers and the trade of the wine world. It not only serves as a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry but also contributes to the performing arts in Vancouver.

Every year, VIWF celebrates a specific continent, country, or wine region, creating a unique and enriching atmosphere. A pivotal part of this celebration is the selection of a Keynote Speaker, responsible for setting the event’s tone and encapsulating its theme.

This year, the spotlight shone on Italy and it fills me with immense pride to share that I was nominated as the Keynote Speaker for this prestigious festival. My Canadian colleague and dear friend, Michaela Morris, played a significant role in advocating for my appointment.

The journey began in December 2022 when I received the exciting news and an invitation to attend the 2023 festival, themed around South America, with the wonderful Evan Goldstein MS as the charming Keynote Host. The adventure of 2023 became a unique learning experience, marked by my role in leading the ambitious Global Cru Tasting alongside James Nevison.

What struck me most during IVWF was the energy felt throughout the entire week. It was akin to an elegant wine rave party, with enthusiasm flowing freely from all sides – trade, press, speakers, winemakers, and guests alike.

Behind the Podium: Leading the World League of Winemakers

Taking the stage, I faced almost 100 avid wine lovers, supported by a remarkable team of world-class winemakers:

– Argentina – Catena Zapata with Laura Catena
– Chile – Cono Sur Vineyards & Winery with Carol Anai Koch Gonzalez
– Croatia – Vinarija Korta Katarina with Petar Delic
– Spain – Marques de Riscal with Jose Luis Muguiro Jr.
– Italy – Marchesi Mazzei with Giovanni Mazzei
– Italy – Rocca delle Macie with Sergio Zingarelli
– Italy – Giovanni Rosso with Daniele Dellanoce
– France – Chateau Pesquie with Frederic Chaudiere
– Chile – Vina Errazuriz with Cinthia Morabito, Marketing Manager
– USA – Robert Mondavi Winery with Mark de Vere MW
Alongside them, the kindest journalist and educator, James Nevison.

The challenge was moderating this stellar panel, and the approach was clear – an introduction to the concepts of Cru and terroir, allowing each champion to lead with their powerful free spirit. With one rule in place – avoid technical discussions – the tasting unfolded dynamically.

Laura Catena set the tone, discussing women’s rights and passing the torch to the next generation of winemakers. The tasting unfolded with enthusiasm and national pride, creating a completion enriched by the Spanish, the French, and the Italians alone. Croatia, Chile, and the USA proudly showcased their wines and personalities, leaving the audience thrilled and excited. We concluded the tasting with a resounding roar, affirming the true essence of our shared passion for wine.

Wine as a Unifier: An Inspiring Conclusion

This experience reaffirmed that wine was not just a subject for discussion but a force that brings people together, encouraging thoughtful conversations and shared moments. Filled with inspiration, I decided to take a few days off to travel and explore British Columbia with Daria, delving into the culture where the festival unfolded.

In October 2023, I flew back to Vancouver to pay a visit to the wines of British Columbia, traversing the Okanagan Valley with the intent of including them in one of “my” seminars for VIWF 2024.

In essence, my role as the Keynote Speaker at the Vancouver International Wine Festival is a journey filled with pride, excitement, responsibility and gratitude. As I look forward to VIWF 2024, I am eager to continue this exploration and celebration of the diverse and rich world of wines.