Vinitaly - Less Well Attended than 2019, but Plenty of International Visitors

Italy's annual showcase of its wines remains a crucial date in the international calendar. And, while there were significantly fewer Italian visitors, this year's event attracted healthy numbers from the US and Asia.

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The Sicilian Hall at Vinitaly
The Sicilian Hall at Vinitaly

Before it opened, Vinitaly, as the third in the series of major annual wine fairs after Wine Paris and ProWein, was inevitably the focus of a great deal of speculation. Would it be as big, and would the exhibition stands be as lavish as in previous years? The answer to both questions was yes. After a successful Wine Paris which was seen as very French-focused and a ProWein that felt and was less crowded than in the years before the pandemic, the 55th Verona fair had a very similar ambiance to 2019. The bigger producers still had their palatial booths and even the smallest had taken the trouble to decorate them stylishly, even if this only involved coloured walls and a single flower in a vase. And the event felt crowded.

The statistics however told a slightly different story. There were 93,000 visitors 5,000 more than in 2022 but 25% less than 2019’s 125,000. The figure of 29,600 international visitors was over 18% higher than last year, but 10% fewer than in 2019. The reduction in the number of Italian visitors may reflect the increase in the cost of daily entrance tickets to €120 and the toughening of the restrictions on the provision of free tickets to trade.

International and high profile appearances

Even so, for anyone hearing the volume of Italian voices as they walked from one hall to another, the fact that nearly a third of the people in the aisles were from outside Italy will have come as a surprise. Few might have imagined that the number of Americans had grown by 45% over the last 12 months, increasing the US lead over Germany, the UK and China which was home to over 1,000 visitors.

Chiara Lungarotti, CEO of her family winery in Umbria confirmed that almost all of her existing and possible international customers had turned up for their appointments, and Camilla Lunelli of the sparkling giant Ferrari said she had back-to-back meetings throughout the fair.

Alongside the exhibition in the Veronafiere fairground, there was also a digital Vinitaly Plus event that was responsible for over 11,000 one-on-one online discussions and the off-site event ‘Vinitaly & the City’ where there were 45,000 tastings, over 50% more than in 2022. Tickets - which included four taster samples - for this event cost €20.

The importance of Vinitaly to the country in which it is held was marked by the trouble that was taken to host a display of paintings of Bacchus by Caravaggio and Guido Reni on loan from the Uffizi gallery in Florence. The artworks attracted almost as much attention as prime minister Giorgia Meloni who visited on the second day, saying it was an event she couldn’t possibly miss.

Vinitaly 2024 will take place from April 14th to 17th



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