Amsterdam Bulk Wine Fair a success, despite challenges

To host an exhibition in a pandemic, in a city with a newly-imposed 8.pm curfew and alongside street protests against vaccinations, is not simple, but the World Bulk Wine Exhibition seems to have succeeded.

The World Bulk Wine Exhibition was less busy than usual, but still successful / Credit: WBWE
The World Bulk Wine Exhibition was less busy than usual, but still successful / Credit: WBWE

According to the organisers, the 13th World Bulk Wine Exhibition (WBWE) attracted 265 wineries, wine producers and agencies, exhibitors from 15 countries and more than 4,000 visitors from 57 countries to the fair in Amsterdam on 22 and 23 November. 

Visitors to the event were struck by a quieter than usual ambience and a number of notable absences. The global brokerage, Ciatti, was only present via its Argentine branch. Moldova, which has traditionally had a large generic presence, was nowhere to be seen and some regular Spanish, Italian, South African and Australian exhibitors had also cancelled. However, the Wine Group, Bronco, LCW from Australia, and Origin were all present and the family-owned Italian company Cortecchia had doubled the size of its stand. Export director, Viktoria Szovenyi, said that the extra space had been worthwhile, given the number of visitors she had seen.

Szovenyi who sells wine from across Italy was busy pouring Sicilian and Lazio Pinot Grigio for buyers unable to find examples from the north east of Italy. Regionally-based French exhibitors who had made the journey to Amsterdam often had little or no wine to sell and said they were there to see regular customers rather than to attract new business. 
Alongside the exhibition, conference sessions focused heavily on canned wine, and a blind tasting of can versus bottle, and a small British made canning line from Micro Can both attracted great interest. 

As at any exhibition, there was plenty of gossip, including reports that Gallo had purchased three million litres of Muscat. Or was it six? And hadn’t they also bought similar quantities of Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay? Certainly, the global shortage of good, affordable volumes of these grapes was at the heart of many discussions, as were prices, of wine, transportation and the dry goods that would be required to package the bulk wine when it reached its destination.

There was talk of the high prices of wine from the south of Italy – which are expected to fall in  the new year – and of shipments to Europe from Argentina, which has good stocks. Rafael del Rey, General Manager at the Spanish Observatory of Wine Markets, raised eyebrows during his conference presentation when he pointed out that France – always a big buyer of bulk wine for the production of EU-blends for its domestic market – seemed to have purchased less than might have been expected, given the size of its 2021 harvest. What were the French going to buy? And when?

Despite the smaller numbers, the fair was considered a success by exhibitors like Justin Moran, sales director of LCW. “I’ve not seen many people. But the ones I have seen have definitely been worth seeing.”
 

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