Wine Culture Magazine

Vitis writer awarded the Spirited Industry Professional Award

Tim Pawsey was awarded the Spirited Industry Professional award at the Vancouver International Wine Festival.

Gracious. Supportive. Compassionate. A consummate professional.

Those were just a few of the accolades for this year’s Spirited Industry Professional—Vitis’s own contributing writer, Tim Pawsey—announced at the Celebrating Excellence awards lunch that closed Trade Days at the 45th Vancouver International Wine Festival.

Add to that: “A great travel companion”; “Cares about telling a good story”; and “We’re pretty lucky to have him in the business.”

We couldn’t agree more. SIP is perhaps the greatest honour doled out in Vancouver’s vibrant hospitality community, and Tim is among that community’s greatest supporters and promoters.

The awards lunch itself is for many in the industry the highlight of VIWF. Along with a lunch paired with 20 exceptional wines from the theme region (Italy, this year), attendees get to celebrate the best in the business, who also happen to be their friends and colleagues.

Among the awards announced this year was the 2024 Sommelier of the Year, Ian Casterton, Key Account Manager, Andrew Peller Limited, who was selected through a hands-on competition organized by the BC Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, held on January 30.

In addition, the 2024 Terry Threlfall Scholarship was awarded to Dawn Schultz, front-of-house manager, educator and consultant at Designer Grapes Consulting. The award is named for one of the most beloved members of B.C.’s hospitality community, who passed away suddenly in October 2020, and is intended for a candidate seeking to make a difference in mentorship and leadership in the British Columbia wine trade.

And, of course, there were the Wine Program Excellence Award Winners. Hosts DJ Kearney and Chris Turyk emphasized that these awards are not just for a restaurant’s wine list, but its program as a whole and that yes, spelling really does matter. There were seven platinum awards this year, including the first ever for Vancouver Island, for The Courtney Room.

But the big moment was the reveal of the 17th annual Spirited Industry Professional, which is presented to “an individual who has made a significant contribution to the sales, service or promotion of wine in British Columbia.” That perfectly describes Tim Pawsey, a wine writer who has been covering the food and wine revolution “for about 20 kilos.”

Here’s what the festival had to say about him:

“His hallmark is seeking out and recommending value wines from BC and around the world that offer quality at every level. He also scopes out noteworthy restaurants that live up to their promises and often over deliver. Readers depend on his Hired Belly for his “Belly’s Best” and “Belly’s Budget Best” picks to help them find the right wine for the occasion. For several decades, Tim has been a columnist in local newspapers, and he contributes to several other publications, including BCL Taste magazine, Quench, Vitis BC and Montecristo. He is a frequent judge for wine competitions and was a founding judge of the BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Wine. Tim is a founding member and a former director of the British Columbia Hospitality Foundation.”

Unfortunately, Tim couldn’t be at the festival to accept the award—and the heartfelt standing ovation—in person, as he is scheduled for surgery in the next few days. His wife, the opera singer Heather Pawsey, accepted in his place.

“It is incredible to be here and feel the love for my beloved husband,” she said.

Cheers to you, Tim. No one deserved this recognition more.

For the full list of winners, as well as the wines poured at the event, visit:


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