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Vinexpo launches new regional initiative

Vinexpo is launching a new annual event aimed at accelerating trade with up-and-coming wine regions, which will see wine buyers taken to vineyards in a host region as part of a two-day business-building programme.

Vinexpo Bordeaux

The first Vinexpo Explorer event will be held in Austria on 11-12 September and will include a large tasting with around 100 Austrian producers, visits to several wineries representing the country, workshops looking to develop wine sales in the buyers’ countries, networking events, and scheduled one-to-one meetings to further business and trading.

The initiative is intended to take the selection of ‘top’ buyers out of the conference hall and immerse them in the winemaking of the host region in order to build trade, boost sales and facilitate better communication about the wines from that area. It will concentrate on lesser-known regions that have strong potential in the international market, with potential future regions identified as the Douro Valley, Oregon, Sicily, Swartland, the Languedoc and Scotland, among a “very long list”.

Vinexpo’s chief executive officer Guillaume Deglise said Vinexpo Explorer could offer something you can’t find in international fairs – examples of how wineries live on an everyday basis, which is key to communicate to consumers in order to build sales.

“The goal is to explore everything that the hosting region has to offer – obviously to discover the wines, but also the food, the vineyards, the stories and habit,” Deglise said. “Visiting the vineyard, buyers will get to know people much better, know what type of food to have with the wines, for example, and see how to make the wines sell more successfully,” he said, adding: “It is not something you could have if you were travelling through the country.”

Around 100 of the most influential international buyers will be invited from across the trade for each annual event, including importers, distributors, state monopolies, the off-trade, multiple and duty free retailers, ecommerce operators, and hotels. They will be selected for their clout as indicated by the volume and value of wine sales, with Vinexpo working with the host nation to select the most suitable group of buyers from key markets that reflect the needs of the host as well as the buyers’ interests. However Deglise added that buyers could also express interest in taking part through the newly-launched Vinexpo Explorer website.

“The selection reflects the complexity of the trade and should help the host region to increase the business in the future,” Deglise said.

The buyers will also be invited to join a community of buyers, to share experience and take part in workshops.

Around 10 UK-based buyers will be invited to the first Vinexpo Explorer in Vienna, with buyers from Asia and the Americas also being of key importance to boost Austria’s international profile outside Europe.

Deglise described Austria, a long-standing partner, as one of the “hottest rising destination” in the wine world that was already well-known to sommeliers and top restaurants in the world, but explained that the average consumer was not fully aware of its wines.

“It has a good image, but there is work to be done on promoting Austria – this is all about accelerating sales throughout the world,” he said.

Wilhelm Klinger, managing director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB), said he was honoured to be the first region in Vinexpo Exploration, and was looking at it to drive sales further.

“Being the first country is great exposure in the market,” he said.”Participating in Vinexpo Explorer will enchain our notoriety of international top buyers and sustain our efforts in becoming a must-have category on the global map of wine origins.”

Klinger said it would be a “once in a century event”, adding that the tasting format for example would have to be unique and showcase bottles that “you can’t usually get”.

The first event will focus solely on wine, but subsequent events are likely to include spirit producers.

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