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February 23, 2015, Vancouver, BC—The Vancouver International Wine Festival, presented by The Vancouver Sun, started the 2015 festival celebrations in style with the Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction fundraiser at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver on Friday, February 20. Net proceeds will benefit charitable partner Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.

“I am so pleased that our Southern Cross-themed ballroom sparkled as brightly as our guests in our celebration of Australia and Bard on the Beach,” said Jana Maclagan, Chair of the Bacchanalia Gala committee. “Our generous donors and guests ensured that Gala’s contribution to the arts in Vancouver is thriving. I am honoured to have been involved in this beautiful and successful evening.”

The Gala, which is generously sponsored by Deloitte, kicked off with a sparkling wine reception, while guests named their best price on a one-bid auction, started early bidding on the Epicurean Auction or had their pictures snapped by Ron Sombilon at a photo booth featuring props from Bard on the Beach. Following the reception, guests sipped on nine wines paired with five extraordinary courses created by the Fairmont’s executive chef, Cameron Ballendine.

Guests placed their bids on coveted silent auction items including unique and rare wines, culinary excursions and one-of-a-kind experiences, while Master of Ceremonies Fred Lee kept the evening flowing. During the cheese course, Howard Blank handled the fast and furious bidding for the Live Auction. Highlights included dinner for eight on the BMO Mainstage at Bard, which went for $7,500; a wine cruise for 20 aboard “La Feline” luxury yacht, which brought in $8,000; and a 27-litre bottle of Cassini Cellars “The Godfather”, which wowed the crowd and raised $4,000. In total, the live and silent auctions raised more than $117,000.

The evening had a decidedly Down Under flair, with festival theme country sponsors Wine Australia providing gifts to all attendees of Cobran Estate premium Australian olive oil and Jackaroo Dukkah. Wine Australia also donated a spectacular sold-out raffle prize of a two-week trip to Savour Australia that raised $20,000.

“It was a thrill to experience such a dynamic and exciting event” said Dr. Jim Bovard, Chair of Bard’s Board of Directors. “The Wine Festival is a fundamental pillar of support for Bard. It’s an honour to work with our friends at the Festival and to be the beneficiary of their great success.”

Net proceeds from the 2015 Festival, contributed to Bard on the Beach, will be announced at the festival’s year-end in June. The 2016 Bacchanalia Gala is scheduled for Saturday, February 20, 2016.

Canada’s premier wine show marks its 37th edition of pairing wine, food and the performing arts from February 20 to March 1, 2015, featuring Australia as the theme country and Syrah+Shirazas the global focus. The festival will showcase 170 wineries from 14 countries (including 55 wineries from Australia) pouring 1,750+ wines at 53 events to a projected 25,000 admissions. The Acura Tasting Room features all 170 participating wineries, pouring 770+ wines over six sessions, February 26-28. The Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction opened the festival on Friday, February 20 at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. 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 1979, the festival has raised $8.3 million for the performing arts. Major partners are the BC Liquor Distribution Branch and the Import Vintners & Spirits Association. For more information go to

Stay with us as #VANWINEFEST continues.. Taylor J will be mingling about getting the real scoop on AUS. Wines!

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