On March 3rd, Vinitaly was due to host one of its regular roadshow tastings in Moscow. ”Naturally, we had to cancel.” explains Stevie Kim the Verona-based wine fair's managing director. But we still had the challenge of what to do about the online VIA – Vinitaly International Academy – course whose students in that region are from both Ukraine and Russia. "It wasn't easy!".
The roadshows and VIA Wine Courses that have yielded 270 highly-informed wine ambassadors out of 1,000 original candidates are just two of the activities Kim runs alongside the world’s biggest Italian wine exhibition. There is also the 5-Star Wine competition to select Italy’s finest wines; the Wine2Wine professional conference with 100 speakers and 2,000 attendees; OperaWine, by-invitation-only tasting where Wine Spectator’s most highly rated Italian wines are poured by the producers and estate-owners; and professionally-produced daily podcasts and videos.
Kim, was in London with Giovanni Mantovani, CEO of Veronafiere and Vinitaly, as guests of ITA, the Italian Trade Agency, principally to talk about the 54th edition of Vinitaly. “With over 4,000 exhibitors, this will be the first really big fair of the year”, she said, far larger than February’s Wine Paris/Vinexpo and, for the first time, preceding ProWein.
“I think everyone is really looking forward to it”, she said, recalling the positive atmosphere she saw among French producers at the Paris event. Some of their Italian counterparts had the opportunity to meet and show off their wines late last year at a small-scale ‘Vinitaly Special Edition’, and they will all be back in the same exhibition halls for the full-size version from April 10-13.
Mantovani, who referred to the “high grade of trust and expectation from international operators and exhibitors” said that this year’s event will include numerous focus meetings for buyers from specific countries. Leading these will be Canada, US, Malaysia, Singapore, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Eastern Europe and Africa.
That list of countries will be especially relevant for Vinitaly’s exhibitors this year. In 2020, Italy, as Sergey Panov reveals this week HERE, was the second biggest wine exporter to Russia by volume and the largest by value, with a 22% market share. Many Italian producers who might have been pouring their wine in Moscow in February, will now doubtless be looking for new customers elsewhere.