Canada’s premier wine show just marked its 44th edition of pairing wine, food and the performing arts. The Vancouver International Wine Festival showcased 147 wineries from 17 countries, featured 36 events over eight days, and was launched by the highly anticipated Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction. Presented by National Bank Private Banking 1859, it is the main fundraising event of the festival and was held at the historic and much-awarded Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.

The Bacchanalia Gala, which is the sparkling centrepiece of the VIWF, took place Saturday, April 22, in a gorgeous ballroom. Live and silent auctions raised nearly $130,000while the sold-out raffle for two round-trip Delta One International Business Class tickets, donated by Delta Air Lines, raised an additional $20,000. Individual donations at the event brought the evening’s total to $160,000.

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Harry Hertscheg, Executive Director of VIWF welcomes the VIP Preview Audience | Image: Helen Siwak

Honorary Gala Chair Anthony von Mandl, O.C., O.B.C. expressed gratitude and appreciation for all who made the evening possible. Net proceeds of this annual fundraiser benefit charitable partner Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.

“This year’s Gala was superb and all of us at Bard say a huge thank you to the organizing team and to everyone who attended,” says Bard on the Beach Artistic Director Christopher Gaze. “Guests were dazzled by the extraordinary wines and menu and once the Delta Air Lines raffle prize was awarded, the dance floor was packed! The funds the Gala raised will give our unique Education programs even more impact and this generous support will help us teach and inspire thousands of young people across British Columbia. We are deeply grateful.”

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Pre-auction camaraderie | Image: Helen Siwak

The evening began with a Champagne reception, where roving volunteers helped guests register for the online Silent Auction. Following the reception, guests savoured nine spectacular wines perfectly paired with five courses created by the Fairmont’s executive chef, David Baarschers.

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Exquisite display of wines for auction | Image: Helen Siwak

Throughout dinner, guests were able to place their bids using their mobile phones on silent auction lots of exclusive and rare wines and wine experiences, while Masters of Ceremonies Sophie Lui of Global BC and Christopher Gaze kept the evening flowing. During the dinner, Howard E. Blank hosted the exciting Live Auction, which featured once-in-a-lifetime wine lots and sensational packages.

“Private Banking 1859 is so proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction for the third year,” says Haleh Alexander, Regional Vice President, British Columbia, of National Bank Private Banking 1859. “This wonderful event, which supports Bard on the Beach’s mission to educate youth in the world of arts and culture aligns so well with our values. We look forward to returning in 2024.”

The following dinner wines were generously donated by the wineries and their agents:

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV, Champagne, FranceEnrico Gatti Franciacorta Brut NV, Lombardy, ItalyMcWatters Collection Brut 2017, Okanagan Valley, CanadaCedarCreek Estate Winery Platinum Jagged Rock Chardonnay 2021, Okanagan Valley, CanadaBodega Garzón Reserva Albariño 2022, Garzón, UruguayViña Errázuriz Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, Aconcagua Valley, ChileCatena Zapata Malbec Argentino 2020, Mendoza, ArgentinaMASI Costasera Amarone 2017, Veneto, ItalyGraham’s Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Port 2012, Douro Valley, PortugalGrand Tokaj Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2013, Tokaj, Hungary

Vancouver International Wine Festival

The VIWF festival is consistently ranked the #1 Food, Wine & Hospitality Event in Canada by New York’s BizBash. The festival is produced by the Vancouver International Wine Festival Society, which has three mandates: provide an informative, educational and entertaining wine experience for public and trade; be a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry and festival partners; and raise funds for the Bard on the Beach Theatre Society.

Since its inception in 1979, the festival has raised nearly $9.9 million for the performing arts through the Bacchanalia Gala. Major sponsors are Delta Air Lines and The Vancouver Sun; major industry partners are the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, BC Liquor Stores, and the Import Vintners & Spirits Association.

Bard on the Beach

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The room was decorated with costumes from Bard on the Beach | Images: Helen Siwak

Bard on the Beach was established in 1990 with a mandate to provide Vancouver residents and tourists with affordable, accessible Shakespearean productions of the finest quality. Begun as an Equity Co-op, Bard is now a fully professional company engaging hundreds of talented artists, artisans, technicians and year-round administrators.

Bard’s primary focus is its annual festival in Vanier Park/Sen̓áḵw, which annually attracts over 100,000 people. Bard’s other key elements include education and training initiatives for both the artistic community and the general community at large.


A big thank you to Vancouver-based luxury reseller Mine & Yours for styling us in an incredible Louis Vuitton dress and Versace padded clutch. They were perfect for the evening.

Author Profile

Helen Siwak, Luxury Lifestyle Observer
Helen Siwak, Luxury Lifestyle Observer
Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, PORTFOLIOY.YVR Business & Entrepreneurs Magazine, and digital women's lifestyle magazine She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at
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