ProWein's Time to Strike Back

The ProWein must once again take the initiative to avoid falling behind. A commentary by Clemens Gerke.

Reading time: 3m 30s

Clemens Gerke, Editor-in-Chief of the German wine trade magazine WEINWIRTSCHAFT (Photo: AD LUMINA Ralf Ziegler)
Clemens Gerke, Editor-in-Chief of the German wine trade magazine WEINWIRTSCHAFT (Photo: AD LUMINA Ralf Ziegler)

The 'Rumble in the Jungle' between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman is widely regarded as the most spectacular fight in modern boxing. From today's perspective, the drama of that time appears confusing. The world champion, George Foreman, took the initiative from the beginning of the fight and did everything to knock out his opponent. Nowadays, champions often prefer to let the challenger take the risky offensive and instead opt for dangerous counters. However, of course, the roles were not as clear back then, because the world champion Foreman had to fight against the legend Ali.

What does this have to do with wine? Here, too, we have witnessed the duel of two giants in recent weeks – ProWein and Wine Paris. And just like in the 'Rumble in the Jungle,' the roles between the two are far from clear-cut, as some might think. As far as the drama in the ring is concerned, Wine Paris has taken on the role of Foreman, while ProWein behaves more passively like Ali.

The fight is often reduced to loosened ropes, in which Ali cushioned Foreman's hard blows until he lost his strength. But this is an inadequate reduction of what happened. Throughout the fight, Ali was always able to land real effective punches seemingly out of nowhere, so that his victory in the end cannot be attributed to a lucky punch. One thing Ali avoided throughout the entire fight was dropping his guard.

Unfortunately, these two strengths were lacking in ProWein. It recently danced around the ring with confidence in its own strength but without proper defense, resulting in taking painful hits. At the same time, it failed to score with hard counters. ProWein did not win the last two rounds.

ProWein is not knocked out

However, anyone who believes that ProWein will be knocked out after the 2024 edition needs to adjust their perspective. Yes, the number of exhibitors was down, and the decline in visitor numbers is probably not solely the fault of Claus Weselsky, the GDL unionist and initiator of the strikes in the public transport sector. And yet, the feedback from many exhibitors is different. Whereas German exhibitors used to be the biggest critics of their home show, those who have remained are now among those carefully weighing the pros and cons and have landed on the pro side. Rarely have I heard so much support for ProWein among Germans as I did in 2024.

This is also due to the fact that the German exhibitors have realized that ProWein has been beaten in the battle and now fear what would happen to them if ProWein were to lose the bout. 

The France pavilions, in particular, were a disappointment. Another decline seems likely, so the fair would be wise to reconsider hall planning and perhaps forego two halls, as there was also more space than before in other halls. Whether the Italians will remain as loyal to ProWein as they have been in the past remains to be seen. However, for the majority in Eastern Europe and overseas, ProWein is likely to remain their fair of choice.


The 30th edition of ProWein was less of a celebration than the organisers might have wished, thanks to difficulties created by German airline and railway workers.

Reading time: 3m

The great vs. the small

As far back as the 2010s, ProWein has been criticized for growing too quickly. The truth is that, just like back then, there are still many exhibitors at the fair who feel lost and are wasting EU export promotion funds. It's entirely possible that more small exhibitors from Italy and Spain will squander these funds in Paris in the future – because everyone should bear in mind: there, they will receive even less attention than at ProWein.

The contrast in perception of the fair between large and small exhibitors is striking. Hardly any major exhibitor regrets their investment in the fair. For the big players, either good preparation ensured that their stands were filled throughout the event, or they knew that the right one or two buyers would justify the costs. For small exhibitors waiting for random visits, the picture is different. But it was no different ten years ago, it has nothing to do with the ProWein visitors or the competition from Wine Paris. 

Missing magic 

The magic of the new is what currently makes Wine Paris stand out. It is met with much enthusiasm, which then spreads throughout the fair. The opposite is evident at ProWein. Not a few exhibitors express their satisfaction with almost grumpy faces. This may, of course, also have to do with the layout or Claus Weselsky, but my impression was that they miss the hustle and bustle of ProWein.

It sounds absurd, but even the professionals who benefit from the concentrated atmosphere miss the buzz, even though it complicates their business dealings. The necessity to have conversations at a high volume makes the success of a fair visible even to the blind and ensures that nobody needs to justify their visit with numbers.

The wine trade is a people business with an emotional component. Therefore, trade fairs remain important, but the surroundings are also significant, and the atmosphere can lead some to make false conclusions. Messe Düsseldorf must not neglect the emotional component and must rally its fans behind it. The unique atmosphere – mentioning "Ali Bumaye" – was also part of the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’.

I have the feeling that ProWein supporters are now taking a clearer stance because they realize their favorite needs support.

I have the feeling that ProWein supporters are now taking a clearer stance because they realize their favorite needs support. However, it is primarily ProWein that is called upon. It must engage in the fight – it's high time to strike back. After the brutal losses due to Corona, further painful cuts in profitability were avoided, while Wine Paris is still investing and building, neglecting the color of the numbers. A similar readiness is now required in the fight from ProWein. 


ProWein is all about strengthening business ties or establishing new ones. But what is the main topic of discussion for each wine-growing region right now? To help you get the conversation started at the different trade fair stands, we have compiled an overview of the most important facts for each country.

Reading time: 6m 15s



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