Looking back to 2022
Last year’s event was a brave gamble, held at a time when the pandemic was far from over, and there was a high risk of enforced closure of exhibitors or visitors simply failing to turn up. Messe Dusseldorf, organisers of ProWein had taken a more cautious approach, postponing their fair by a couple of months.
Wine Paris 2022 was generally well-received by everyone who was there, especially as it offered many who were present a first chance to see each other again in two years. Even so, there were many missing faces from countries like Australia and China which were still locked down, and from the USA where people were wary of travelling to Europe.
One year on…
Twelve months later, 36,324 people turned up at the Parc des Expositions in Paris, and while the vast majority were French, there were plenty of foreign languages thanks to the nearly 150 countries the others represented.
The 3,387 exhibitors were mostly Gallic too, occupying all of halls 2, 3, 4 and 6. The two floors of Hall 5 were home to producers from 41 other countries but Italy, Austria, Switzerland, the US, Argentina, Germany and Portugal had the lion’s share.
The French perspective
French exhibitors were delighted with the numbers of people they saw, and their quality. Valerie Pajotin, CEO of Anivin de France, whose stand was showing off the winners of the latest competition for the best Vin de France, said she had seen visitors from a broad range of countries and growing interest in the wines. “People are now much more open to good orange wines without an appellation, for example” she said. These included the extraordinary Vins de France like Gerard Bertrand’s Villa Solleilla, that retails at €130.
Less traffic in the international area
Producers in the international hall were aware that they were seeing rather less traffic than their French counterparts, but this didn’t seem to be a problem for many of them.
Michael Collier MW of the Californian brand, Bread & Butter wines, was very happy with his experience at the fair. “It has not been packed, but we’ve seen the people we wanted to see and got a lot of interest.”
The wines Collier was pouring were unashamedly at the bigger, richer, end of the scale and possibly what many people expect from California, but Marco Tiggelman of the California Wine Institute reported that visitors were appreciating the “uniqueness and finesse” of newer US styles. Tiggelman said this was California’s first time at Vinexpo/Wine Paris, although the west coast state was a regular feature of Vinexpo Bordeaux in its heyday. The French market is certainly a target for the Californians now, but their stands also attracted numerous buyers from Asia.
… and those from Europe
Remi Sanz of the Spanish fine wine portfolio company ARAEX Grands is not a newcomer as an exhibitor. “For us as an export-oriented company, fairs are very important. We have been at Wine Paris since 2020, mainly to meet buyers from the French market.” Even so, “a few more US or Asian buyers… would be great.”
The separation of ‘international’ exhibitors from French pleased some more than others. Océane Gex of Swiss Wine thought “It is perfect to be in the international hall because we want to be perceived as an international brand and it is good to be next to Germany and Austria.”
Views from Italy
The Italian producer Stefano Sgarzi, however, “would prefer a mix of France and other countries.”
His compatriot, Mario Piccini of Piccini 1882, one of Italy’s major exporters had a more nuanced view. “It is our second time in Paris, we are here for the French market, but we see many professionals who interested in French wines and who then come by to see us. We are guests here. In the French halls it would be easier to find us. But we are an important wine producing country and it is good if we show our strength together.”
Conferences and tastings
Apart from the exhibition itself, as in previous Vinexpo events, the fair was distinguished by a broad selection of conference sessions and tastings, ranging from discussions of NFTs and sustainable B-Corp certification to an opportunity for visitors to test their ability to identify wines selected and presented by the 2016 and 2019 Meilleurs Sommeliers du Monde.
The programme was certainly ambitious, but sometimes also a challenge for non linguists. At an international trade fair, it is surprising when some events are offered exclusively (and without translation) in French, such as the otherwise excellent Wine Tech Conference. Some attendees who missed seeing the language information in the app where it was in very small print found the experience annoying. Others also criticised the usability of the app and the website.
In a few weeks many of the same people will be pouring their wines at ProWein in Germany – and doubtless discussing the relative merits of the two events. And the cost of hotels in Paris and Dusseldorf.