Last week's 2023 London Wine Fair was, by common consent, a great place in which to sample wine from a wide range of countries, and to attend some thought-provoking tutored tastings.
There were pavilions offering wines from Georgia, Portugal, Romania, Armenia, Greece, and Ukraine, a range of producers looking for UK distribution in the ‘Wines Unearthed’ zone and an area full of tables where British distributors showed small selections of their ranges.
But, for anyone who can remember previous years, the 2023 event was also an undeniably low-key affair. It was the London International Wine & Spirits Trade Fair in the 1980s and 1990s that first showcased New World wines. Buyers used to fly in from Asia and the Americas to taste new wines, meet producers and discover latest trends. This year, there was not a single New World generic pavilion, and France, Italy and Spain were all lightly represented. In 2022, there were exhibitors on an upstairs balcony that 12 months later was empty. On the main floor area, there were several ‘seating areas’ – rarely a sign of a successful exhibition, and at least one sizeable stand that had been provided by the organisers at no charge. Stated bluntly, this was not remotely comparable to ProWein or Wine Paris; it was a nice local trade fair.
UK distributors were, however, quite thinly represented, but the four most significant players present – Awin Barratt, Siegel, Seckford, Enotria & Coe and Hatch Mansfield all had well-attended stands.
The UK needs a trade fair but, with a weak British economy and imminent rises in taxes on wine, prospects for next year’s event are not looking bright. Producers and generic organisations wanting to sell wine in this market, or increase their current sales may need to consider other ways of promoting their wares.