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Vinexpo NY overcomes travel concerns with high levels of engagement

The third annual edition of Vinexpo New York closed last week with somewhat reduced numbers, as a result of Covid-19 travel precautions, but with a show of enthusiasm on the part of exhibitors and attendees.

“It’s been a great conference for our winery and for Georgian wines in general,” said Vladimer Kublashvili, chief winemaker for Winery Khareba, on the final day of the show.

At a time when most trade fairs typically begin to lose steam, booth traffic remained heavy at the Georgian pavilion and throughout the conference exhibit hall. “It’s our first year here and it has definitely been busier than we anticipated,” Kublashvili added.

In addition to the traditional standing room-only seminars and tasting sessions, this year saw the inclusion of a speaker’s corner-style interactive programme called The Buzz.

Vinexpo New York’s education partner, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), ramped up its schedule of educational content and added a new WSET expert meeting lounge.

“It has been quite busy for us, and there definitely has been an interest in wine education,” said WSET instructor, Mary Gorman McAdams.

“This was our first time exhibiting in New York, and it exceeded our expectations,” added Steve Melchiskey, president of USA Wine West.

“We brought 21 producers from eight countries, and we met with a number of top buyers, including those from Lidl and Hannaford. In just one hour at the event we had more success than we’ve had at other US shows.”

Beckie Kier, event director of Vinexpo New York organiser Diversified Communications, said the evolving nature of the wine tariff situation “underscored the importance for the industry to meet in New York last week”.

“Vinexpo New York provided opportunities for stakeholders to discuss the challenges face to face and work together to navigate them, We are very pleased with quality of exhibitors and attendees at this year’s show and the meetings that took place there,” she said.

Attendance dropped off this year from around 3,000 in 2019 to 2,200 in 2020, but Diversified said it had expected lighter numbers  due to “tariffs and coronavirus concerns that have impacted travel decisions throughout the industry.”

While buyers from New York made up the bulk of attendees, 41 of the 50 US states were represented at the show, and exhibitors came from 30 countries. There has been no announcement yet as to whether Vinexpo NYC will continue its run in 2021.

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