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The London Wine Fair has been postponed

It was confirmed this morning that May’s London Wine Fair has been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, although no alternative date has been set.

Picture credit: Fiona Hanson, supplied by London Wine Fair

In a missive sent to the drinks business today, head of the London Wine Fair (LWF) Hannah Tovey said that it was “with a heavy heart” that this decision had been taken.

Citing “the safety of our exhibitors, visitors, sponsors, suppliers and in-house team” as the primary reason for postponing the event, Tovey said that it was important to make the announcement now – two months in advance of the London Wine Fair – “to minimise unnecessary expenditure and stress caused by uncertainty.”

She also wrote that “It remains inconclusive as to when, or for how long the Government might place restrictions on mass gatherings in the UK,” before commenting, “Nonetheless the London Wine Fair team has taken the difficult decision to postpone this much-loved event. “

In an exclusive interview with db on 6 March, Tovey had explained why she believed the show must go on, but that was before the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe had been fully realised.

During that discussion, she said that the London Wine Fair would be going ahead as planned from 18-20 May at its usual location of Kensington Olympia, because “we want to provide a place for the wine trade to continue to trade.”

She also said that the later date of the London Wine Fair compared to ProWein – which was cancelled at the start of this month and had been due to take place this week – meant that the risks associated with Covid-19 were lower for the UK event, as it was believed that warmer weather will slow the spread of the virus, as it does for flu.

While British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said yesterday that he believes that the UK can “turn the tide of this disease” in 12 weeks, that would still mean the “self distancing measures” announced by him earlier this month would still be in place during the May-time London event.

While Tovey has not announced a new date for the London Wine Fair 2020, she did say in that interview with db earlier this month that she would consider holding a fair in the autumn, because it would not be possible to host it in the summer months “because the exhibitor base would not be available.”

In the announcement today, she failed to give any indication as to a new date, but said, “We plan to release more information about the next steps for London Wine Fair as soon as possible.”

She added, “Given the exceptional circumstances and elevated number of stakeholders to consider, we would ask for your patience in the interim period.”

Meanwhile, as reported by db yesterday, another debated issue in the Italian trade is Vinitaly 2020, according to wine writer Michèle Shah, who is based in Tuscany.

Described by Shah as “the largest and main engine of the Italian wine trade”, the event, which is held in Verona in mid-April, has already been postponed to 14-17 June 2020. On April 3 they will announce either to go ahead with this date or move the fair altogether to 2021. Many producers depend on this annual trade fair but others are concerned that the event will not be properly attended by the trade.

Piero Mastroberardino owner of the Mastroberardino winery in Campania and president of Federvini Wines Group and of Istituto del Vino Italiano di Qualità, as well as a member of Grandi Marchi, believes that conditions due to Covid-19 are not conducive for such an event in June.

He said, “This health emergency is still exploding in many countries of the world, flights have been canceled, boarders closed and the trade has no intention of traveling in the coming months, at least not until it’s sure that we are clear of the pandemic, which seems unlikely to happen in the coming weeks.”

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