Last night my wife and I were lucky enough to attend Liberty Wines’ Taste BC event, an annual celebration of British Columbia’s great food and drink. The event was held at the very convenient and charming Hyatt Regency in downtown Vancouver. Several dozen wineries, breweries and distilleries from throughout the province sampled their delicious products alongside food from several local restaurants and vendors. There was even an exciting silent auction for BC experiences and products: watching patrons ignore the clearly-stated bid increments as they got a little inebriated was quite amusing! Best of all, proceeds from the event benefit the BC Children’s Hospital every year.
I was immediately impressed upon entering the large space reserved for the event on the Hyatt’s Convention Level. Wineries and their peers were arranged around the outside of the room with food concentrated in the centre. Although I imagine the crowd grew somewhat as latecomers joined after the doors opened at 4:30 it never felt crowded; I don’t think we had to wait in any “line” longer than one or two minutes. As the night grew a bit longer some actual real lines formed to reach the food purveyors, but fortunately nearly every table had some great artisan crackers from Gone Crackers – they really saved the day when you needed a bit more in your stomach! We particularly enjoyed the crackers with cheeses from Poplar Grove – including the epic Tiger Blue – and Benton Brothers Fine Cheese. Some great breads and tapenade from La Baguette really hit the spot as well, and we enjoyed canapes from Central Bistro and Central City Brewing. There were oysters, salami, terrine, and samples of braised lamb and beer bacon to keep the rest of the crowd busy too. I caught a glimpse of Ethical Bean Coffee but unfortunately never got to try some of their no-doubt delicious organic donuts.
In terms of value Taste BC is clearly one of the best events – if not the top value – for fans of BC wine. For comparison, consider this: the 2011 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival will have representation from 19 BC wineries, less than one third those found at Taste BC! To be fair, the excellent Playhouse Festival focuses on wines from across the globe, of which BC is but a small part, but I still go every year with the goal of trying as many BC wines as possible. For a much lower cost one can attend Taste BC and try many more wines – and many smaller, harder-to-find wineries. Ideally of course one would attend both events; that’s certainly my plan for the future!
Soon to come is our take on some favourites: I made sure to prodigiously thank my wonderful wife for taking notes in the excellent booklet provided by Liberty. Looking back it’s amazing which wineries we totally missed – hard to believe we only made to a third of the tables present!