The Real Wine Fair is aiming to attract a more international crowd and shake up the traditional tasting format with what organiser Doug Wregg described as a “slightly anarchic, fun spirit.”
Having attracted around 130 growers and 2,000 visitors to the 2013 event, Wregg told the drinks business that he was aiming for “a little more than last year,” although noted the challenge of attracting Southern Hemisphere producers during their harvest.
On the visitor front, he said: “We want to get people from all over Europe so that it’s international not just a UK event. It’s for people from Scandinavia or Belgium who want to come to London and meet the growers.”
The Real Wine Fair is due to return to last year’s venue at Tobacco Dock in Wapping, east London. The event is open to both trade and public on Sunday 13 April, with a second day for trade only on Monday 14 April.
In addition to the wine tasting tables, Wregg confirmed that there would be food stalls and coffee stands, as well as a restaurant and wine bar area where people can relax or work. “I do feel the tasting format needs reinventing,” he remarked. “Trade tastings have become so boring, it’s the same thing year after year.”
Among the highlights of the event is a return of last year’s Georgian banquet, or supra, which Wregg described as “very ritualistic” and featuring “a lot of toasts.” With 12 Georgian producers showing their wines at the fair, the country will have a particularly strong presence, although Wregg noted that the banquet would also involve growers from other parts of the world.
Other features include a series of four seminars on subjects such as the increasingly popular clay qvevri. However, Wregg insisted: “We don’t want to ram anything down people’s throats; we just want to gradually help to change the culture and get people to understand the way these wines are made.”
Admitting that the term “natural” had become “a slightly poisoned word” as the result of heated debate about this movement, Wregg suggested: “I think we’ve got beyond natural wine; it’s become more about artisan growers.”
In order to build awareness of these wines beyond the confines of the London fair, he highlighted the return of Real Wine Month, which will run throughout April and see over 200 UK retailers or restaurants run promotions and special by the glass listings of organic, biodynamic and natural wines.
Noting that this initiative would allow “hundreds” of extra people across the country to experience this artisanal style of winemaking, Wregg linked this to a steady momentum which continues to build.
“Every year we see these wines in more and more restaurants, not just natural wine bars,” he reported. “They’ve insinuated themselves, they’re getting under the radar.”