- 2,800 exhibitors form 32 countries expected
- 30% fewer visitors than in 2020
- Over 100 tastings, masterclasses and discussions
- New space on innovation and digitization
- Divided opinions about the timing
The Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris will take place as a live event and will thus become the only major wine trade fair in France that will be sticking to its scheduled date. From February 14 to 16, it will take place at the Paris Expo exhibition center, Porte de Versailles - Omicron notwithstanding.
Exhibitors from France - and elsewhere
The Vinexpo and Wine Paris events first came together in their new format in February 2020 a week or so after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and a month before it was declared a pandemic. There were 2,800 exhibitors, most of whom came from France. Only 19 other countries were represented.
Two years later, the fair is more international. The number of exhibitors has not changed, but 32 nations are now participating. Even better, according to the Vinexpo Paris press office only a few have cancelled their participation.
“Everybody is very enthusiastic and eager to get back to business, finally.” Camille Malavoy, PR Officer of Vinexpo.
Of course, France will still have the lion’s share of the space, with all French wine regions taking part. Italy will be number two, and in addition to two Prosecco consortia, the regions of Abruzzo, Friuli and Campania will be represented for the first time.
Expectations of the number of visitors are more modest. The organizers are only expecting about 20,000 visitors, almost a third less than in 2020. Nevertheless, last minute pre-registration of visitors seems to be on track, and has increased significantly in January. And, as the organizers stress, quantity is not everything. What counts for a successful trade fair is the quality of the people you meet and the business opportunities that result.
Five exhibition halls awaiting visitors
According to the organisers, there will be five exhibition halls, with Hall 6 dedicated to the international market. Hall 3 will feature big French brands such as Louis Latour, Advini, Dourthe, Castel, etc., as well as the Be Spirits section (spirits and mixology) and a group of La Nouvelle Vague producers. These are 40 young winemakers who have worked in the industry for a maximum of five years and are looking to build their first national and international distribution networks. At their own booths, they will present wines that, the organizers say have never been exhibited before.
‘ON!’ and ‘So International’ – Fresh branding for tastings, masterclasses and discussions
Under the name ‘ON!’ the organizers are promising over 100 tastings, masterclasses and discussions covering topics including reduced-alcohol, sustainable wines and global consumer trends (in sessions hosted by the IWSR Institute, a specialist in beverage market analysis).
The Vinexpo Challenge is a blind tasting led by Marc Almert, who was named Best Sommelier in the World in 2019. In various masterclasses, participants have the opportunity to learn about recent developments and participate in tastings of wines such as Prosecco, Champagne or Austrian wines. Returning to the fair, but in a renewed format, are the Wine Talks, which will revolve around changing consumer habits and the dynamics of the wine sector.
Themed 'So international', a series of debates will take place about challenges when selling French wines on an international scale.
Innovation and digitization
Given the speed of change in the industry, there is a clear need for any event to consider technological innovation. In collaboration with La Wine Tech and Vinocamp, the fair will offer a space where 30 start-ups will present a wide range of solutions (discoveries, selection, preservation, consumption, purchase of wine, etc.) and, according to the organizers, “offer real growth opportunities for the sector”.
Right or wrong?
Opinions on holding the fair at this time are divided, and some leading players have canceled their participation. First and foremost of these is Les Grands Chais de France (GCF). Serge Melchior, director of sustainable development, explains, "We've consulted a great many of our foreign customers, and very few will come, so we've decided to cancel our participation." Together with other industry players, he brought this to the attention of Vinexposium, the show management, Melchior adds, "but they still decided to keep the date."
Michael Heinrich, managing director of LFE and Herzberger, paints a different picture. "We still have firmly on the screen to go to Paris, in order to get an up-to-date picture of the market from the importer's point of view. We expect to have plenty of time to talk to our suppliers this year."
While it is clear that the number of international visitors will be limited by the pandemic, the fair also offers many industry members the first chance in two years to meet in the flesh. This is also a time when the world is cautiously beginning to imagine a Post-Covid world, and this new mood may lead Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris to be more of a success than some have predicted.
We will not have long to wait to find out