London Wine Fair 2019: The ultimate guide

Business means Business

(Photo: Anthony Upton/London Wine Fair)

One of the most talked-about changes to the event this year is that some visitors will have to pay for tickets this year. Non-exhibiting visitors to the London Wine Fair will have to pay for entry, as organisers crack down on people using the trade show to make deals even though they haven’t taken exhibitor stands. Last year Patrick McGrath MW, the managing director of Hatch Mansfield, told db that the high number of people such as wholesalers using the fair to range includes Hokusai’s The Great Wave DO Aconcagua Sauvignon Blanc, Mondrian’s Composition II Mendoza Malbec and Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss Brut from Italy – with plans for more wines and paintings in the pipeline. When it comes to Italian producers, distributor Mondial is presenting 30 new-entry wineries to on-trade buyers.

Many wines Mondial will bring are new to the UK market, such as Giusti Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG , Mazzola Lacrima di Morro d’Alba Superiore Sangvineto and Tenuta Bastonaca Cerasuolo di Vittoria. New exhibitors are also flocking to London from lesser-known winegrowing regions. This year, Chinese importer Panda is exhibiting at the London Wine Fair for the first time. Founded by sales and marketing veteran Michael Sun and his wife, Meiyu Li, head sommelier and wine director at the Park Hyatt Beijing, Panda’s wineries span northern and eastern parts of China, including the central northern Shanxi region, Hebei province to its east, and Fangshan region in the suburban south west of Beijing.

Digital First

Last year the organisers paved the way for digital innovation by trialling a London Wine Fair app, which allows visitors and exhibitors to find the types of producers or talks they are looking for, and coordinates with a smartphone’s calendar to help showgoers keep track of the events and masterclasses they want to attend. While a daily newspaper will also be distributed throughout Olympia, this year the app is coming back with yet more features to make the visitor experience as smooth as possible. “We had limited expectations last year because it was a trial,” Tovey says, “but a lot of smaller producers used it and filled their diaries.” She adds that around 600 meetings were aranged through the app before the 2018 event; a huge success considering how some pockets of the wine trade are known for their slow adoption of new tech. The app, which Tovey recommends people download a couple of weeks before the event, allows exhibitors to contact any one of the 21,000 registered visitors for a meeting, and they can accept or decline. The app then syncs these appointments with a user’s own Google calendar app, “so you don’t have to keep swapping between apps and everything is a lot simpler”.

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