Q&A with Milan Wine Week founder Federico Gordini

The founder of Milan Wine Week tells db what’s in store for this year’s event in October, and how he plans to turn Milan into an international wine hub.

Why did you decide to make the event digital this year?

We decided to go partially digital to expand the event and make it more international, and also safe during the coronavirus pandemic. We decided to create events all over the world that are compatible with government safety guidelines.For the events running in Milan we created a strategy to reduce the numbers of hosts to the tastings, and we’ve chosen bigger locations for the walk around tastings to deliver a safe experience for attendees.

Technology is offering us new solutions. For example, we usually start Milan Wine Week with a big toast in Piazza Tre Torri, which won’t be possible this year. Instead we will connect digitally with more than 500 houses in Milan and will raise a glass together that way.

There is no substitute for real life wine tastings, so we will be hosting a lot of tastings and events too all over the world where winemakers in Milan will be connected to different key cities, from San Francisco to Moscow. Professionals will be able to ask them questions through our app. We wanted to give people the same wine tasting experience despite travel being difficult at the moment.

Milan Wine Week founder, Federico Gordini

How did you choose the nine participating cities?

From New York to Toronto, they are all very important wine markets for international producers. The event will be open to producers from all over the world, not just Italian winemakers. Our goal to is for Milan to be an international capital for wine as we are for fashion and design.

Like during fashion week, we want the best winemakers from around the world to come to Milan and present their latest innovations and ideas, and turn Milan into an international capital of wine excellence and innovation. The nine cities that will be connected are just the beginning for us, we want more cities and countries to take part next year.

How many people to you expect to take part in and attend the event?

Last year we had over 1,500 producers and 300,000 visitors attend, and we’re hoping for a similar number of participating wineries this year. We have over 150 different events going on during the week across 500 venues.

October is an important month for winemakers in a commercial sense, as it’s their last chance to try and claw back something from 2020. This year has been difficult as there have been big losses in the on-trade.

Tell us a bit about some of the consumer events taking place…

We are working with top Italian chefs like Davide Oldani, Moreno Cedroni, and Andrea Berton on a series of food and wine pairing tutorials were the wine provides the inspiration for the creation of the dish. These will take place in a test kitchen close to Piazza Duomo and will be a chance to educate consumers about food and wine pairing

We will do a special activation of six of Milan’s most popular quarters, Each of them will be represented by a different wine region, from Franciacorta and Friuli to Asti and Prosecco, so that consumers learn about the different regions while they make their way around the city. Participating restaurants and bars will be holding wine tastings and pairing dinners of the wines from their represented region.

We want to teach consumers the differences between the different territories and their products. With regards to sparkling, it is very important to explain the difference between Franciacorta and Prosecco, and to make wine education fun and accessible. Milan Wine Week will be the first big event to take place in the city since the coronavirus lockdown. Northern Italy was badly hit by the virus, now the situation has changed and this is the chance to restart the city and get things going again. Italy needs Milan to restart.

Tastings in London will take place at 67 Pall Mall

What do you have planned for the trade?

We will be hosting a series of wine tastings, seminars and masterclasses. There will also be a wine business forum exploring export opportunities and how to succeed in a post-Covid wine world.

Another forum will explore the shifting retail landscape and where wine fits into it, which will include talks from leading wine retailers. And for the second year, we will have a wine generation forum dedicated to millennials working in the wine trade, offering them advice, guidance and networking opportunities, as they will shape the future of our industry.

What events do you have planned for London?

We will be hosting a series to tastings in London in collaboration with The Drinks Business at 67 Pall Mall hosted by leading Italian winemakers and consortiums. The winemakers will be in attendance at the tastings in London to present their wines, while the consortiums will highlight wines from some of Italy’s top smaller producers. We will be hosting four wine tastings per day for the UK trade at 67 Pall Mall from 5-9 October.

How do you plan on turning Milan into an international wine hub?

Milan is an ideal wine hub for many reasons, including its role as a worldwide capital city of excellence and taste. It is surrounded by vineyards. The origin of the name Milan means ‘in the middle of the land’, and we’re in the middle of Europe with a strong infrastructural system.

This made Milan a growing business hub with an incredible number of successful events and fairs. We are in the middle of the northern Italian wine landscape, with regions like the Langhe, Franciacorta, Oltrepo Pavese, Lugana, Asti, Valtellina and Valpolicella close by.

We want to create a strong profile for wine tourism in Milan, so people feel inspired to spend the night in Milan and then take day trips to nearby wine regions, or head to Parma to learn how Parmesan and prosciutto is made. One of Milan’s big advantages is that it doesn’t produce wine, so it can be independent.

Are you already planning Milan Wine Week 2021?

Yes! Milan Wine Week 2020 is the beginning of a new story us. Next year we’ll go back to what we intended for 2020 – having a lot of international professionals and tourists visit and live the experience of our amazing territories first hand.

We want to increase international participation next year, but the event will also have a digital element. Milan Wine Week is not Italian wine week, it’s an international wine week, so we’re keen for more international wineries from all over the world to take part in our 2021 event.

To sign up to Milan Wine Week’s digital platform, which includes details of the fair’s digital events as soon as they are released, register here.

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