Allegrini 2024

“Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris” growing fair, challenging ProWein (but not Vinitaly)

Logistics, costs and the international dimension of the “Ville Lumiere” play in France’s favor. On which Italy is also increasingly betting
Images from “Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris” 2024

Vinitaly, with its specific focus on Italian wine, and with an increasingly rewarding choice of diverting the public of enthusiasts to the city and business to the fair, is (no longer) in question. While on the Paris-Dusseldorf axis, the specific weight of Italian participation in the two wine fairs has begun to shift toward “Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris” (also staged tomorrow, in the “Ville Lumiere”), whose spaces dedicated to Italy have grown tremendously. While ProWein, where Italian participation still remains massive, is starting to lose a few meters (there is talk of 500 square meters less out of more than 16,000, and some defections among smaller companies, ed.), as confirmed to us by the German fair. And now it is beginning to be questioned, when, on the other hand, until a few years ago, with the Vinexpo crisis in Bordeaux, before the French choice to go to Paris, it seemed impossible. And, if in this 2024, many Italians have gone to Paris, in these hours, almost essentially within collectives, to feel the ground, and will be, in any case, also at the next ProWein (March 10 to 12, ed.), it is likely that sharper choices (and which see Paris favored), will be seen in the coming year. Playing in Paris’ favor (on which France relies heavily, with its historical chauvinism, and also in response to a crisis in its supply chain that we have told you often in recent months), are many factors. Logistics, first and foremost. Because Paris, a great European and world capital, does not feel “the weight of the fair”, compared to a smaller city like Dusseldorf (or like Verona itself, ed.), it allows more frequent, cheap and direct connections from all over the world, it has a much wider and affordable hospitality offer, during the days of the fair, and it also allows for “last minute” arrangements. Dusseldorf has on its side the fact that it is a kind of “neutral field”, given the small German and Austrian production, compared to the big players such as France and Italy. But, in Paris, paradoxically, if operators from all over the world go mainly to meet the French wineries, present en masse from all territories, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne above all, but not only, many also take advantage of a tour of Italy, both for direct business (some even tell of orders directly at the fair) and to give themselves an appointment later at Vinitaly. And for Italian wineries, using this “wake effect” created of French, is becoming an advantage to be exploited. This is the sentiment, gathered by WineNews, among the top management of Consortia, companies and groupings of companies among the corridors of Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, whose only weak point seems to be dimensional, if the presence, Italian (grown by 40% in space and 75% in the number of exhibitors, between 2024 and 2023, with the Belpaese having, for the first time, its own dedicated pavilion), but not only, will tend to grow further. As told to WineNews by the top management of companies, groups and consortia, from Prosecco Doc to Chianti, from Abruzzo to Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Docg, to Istituto Marchigiano Tutela Vini, from Italia del Vino Consorzio to Iswa-Italian Signature Wine Academy, from structured groups such as Tuscany’s Piccini 1882, to small griffes such as Friuli’s Zorzettig
“The one in Paris is a well-organized fair”, comments Roberta Corrà, who heads the Giv-Gruppo Italiano Vino, and Italia del Vino Consorzio, whose collective space is organized by Area39, and which brings together 25 top-notch entities such as Angelini Wines & Estates, Banfi, Bisol 1542, Ca Maiol, Cantina Mesa, Cantine Lunae, Casa Vinicola Sartori, Di Majo Norante, Diesel Farm, Duca di Salaparuta, Ferrari Fratelli Lunelli, Gruppo Italiano Vini, Librandi Antonio and Nicodemo, Marchesi di Barolo, Medici Ermete & Figli, Nosio Spa, Ronchi di Manzano & C. , Santa Margherita Gruppo Vinicolo, Tenimenti Leone, Tenuta La Palazza, Terre de La Custodia, Terredora di Paolo, Torrevento, Zaccagnini and Zonin1821, for a turnover of 1.5 billion euros-with a lot of attendance, a lot of interested people. “It’s a fair I really like: even the events outside to meet clients, with mobility working, are easier, and there are so many objective reasons you touch on to evaluate it well. Going forward, then, the world’s top buyers are attracted to French wines, and using the wake of that is very useful. I think this fair, which is already an important fair, will be more and more so, always nothing to take away from Dusseldorf, which has been and remains a benchmark fair. But I see an important growth of the French fair, it is objective and in the numbers. Last year ProWein was a bit underwhelming, to understand the future we need to understand how each one will evolve and know how to find its way, because otherwise three big fairs, keeping Vinitaly as a fixed point, become difficult to manage ... In any case”, Corrà closes, “if we look at the markets there is a little more confidence than in 2023. Critical issues such as de-stocking in North America, but also inflation, are being resolved or at least improving, and that helps. Then there will be the question of whether the drop in consumption that has been and still is there is related to economic difficulties, and therefore is cyclical, or to consumer choices related to healthiness, and is, therefore, structural, but this will take time”.
In the same vein is Roberto Bruno, CEO of Fontanafredda and vice-president of Iswa (Italian Signature Wine Academy), which brings together wineries such as Fontanafredda, Bellavista, Allegrini, Villa Sandi, Frescobaldi, Caprai, Masciarelli, Feudi di San Gregorio and Planeta: “It is a fair that is going even beyond our expectations. We, as Iswa, have believed in it since the first edition. There are so many elements of advantage compared to other fairs”, emphasizes Bruno, “that can make us think that this will become the international fair of reference in Europe, and if things go like this we will further increase our presence here because there is a strong response from international operators. Vinitaly is a fair focused on Italian wine, it remains a staple. But Paris, compared to ProWein, has so many logistical advantages, and what we have noticed is that many international operators have also made last-minute arrangements: Paris allows you this because you find competitively priced flights even a few days in advance, it has no problems with hotels to find space, and this other cities do not allow you to do, and it can be a relevant advantage for the future, because you can move much more flexibly. That said, it is hard to think of drastic decisions. Certainly the weight ratios between Paris and Dusseldorf”, Bruno explains, “will not be the same: it is clear that if we increase our efforts on Paris we scale down Dusseldorf. Also from a temporal point of view on the calendar Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris is well placed: on the market I note that as always there are many opportunities at the beginning of the year, obviously also risks related to macroenomic and geopolitical situations, but I think it is a year in which the right attitude is prudence. Which doesn’t mean to sit back and wait, but to be active in spite of everything. There are markets with more positive trends than others, but by and large the general mood has changed a bit after Covid, it almost seems like we have found an antidote to the difficulties, we look at them with more concreteness and positivity than before”.
“It's a growing fair, without a doubt”, adds Michele Bernetti, producer with Umani Ronchi and president of the Istituto Marchigiano Tutela Vini, "and we came this year to test the waters. The logistics are much easier and cheaper, both for transportation and accommodation, and this is an important point. It is clear that choices will have to be made in the future, because three fairs, by the way, all close together, are difficult to sustain, and many people's preferences seem to lean toward Paris over ProWein in Dusseldorf, net of Vinitaly, which, for Italian wine, remains the point of reference”. The opinion of Luca Giavi, director of the Prosecco Doc Consortium, is sharper: “we have believed in Paris since the first edition, it is a fair that is worth a lot, and it will inevitably challenge ProWein, which, in my opinion, will go back to being the importers' fair for the German market: both in transport and in receptivity what Paris can offer cannot be offered by Dusseldorf. We will consider what to do. But it is a fact that costs of fairs have become very high, and most will make a choice. And if garrisons will be held at both fairs, certainly, it will be done differently about the past”. Along the same lines, with some different nuances, is Elvira Bortolomiol, at the head of the historic family winery and of the Consortium of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Docg: “for us Paris is a very important fair, there are many, more and more, producers who want to be there, to compare themselves not only with the French market, which is increasingly important for us, but with the world market, because there are more and more importers. For now it is a kind of "preview" of ProWein, it benefits us in the work for the German appointment, but it is an important investment, and in the future it is likely that we will have to choose between one or the other. Also because we have to take into account that although we are looking at a 2024 in which to return to growth, not so much on volumes”, explains Bortolomiol, “but working on value, in our case especially through our most characterizing types, such as Rive, the wine market does not see too rosy prospects in the short term, and so even on investments there will be more attention”. More cautious, in the potential choice between Paris and Dusseldorf, is, on the other hand, the president of the Chianti Wine Consortium, Giovanni Busi: “the pavilions of the French, of course, are packed, but already since yesterday the Italian pavilion was also filling up: the companies are happy, with very targeted contacts, there are not those who go just to taste. First impressions are positive, there are even those who have placed orders at the fair, and that is exceptional. The Paris one, in short, is a good fair. But our reference event, however, is Vinitaly, and we must focus on that in the most absolute way. Vinexpo is growing, but it also depends on the market. Choosing Paris and Dusseldorf depends a lot on company and company, also on customers and where importers go. The fixed point is Vinitay, from where customers come from all parts of the world, for the rest we will see”.
“For companies, especially small and medium-sized ones, it will be difficult to do three fairs. Vinexpo is growing”, comments Davide Acerra, marketing manager Consorzio Vini d'Abruzzo, for his part, “and Italy has one and a half pavilions. Abruzzo has been participating since the beginning, there is more and more demand, we were only in one pavilion, now we have a dedicated one, but Italy is divided, in one pavilion there is all the Center-North, while the Center-South is in another, and this is something to be solved. But it is clear that the attention is growing, both from producers who want to come here, and many have already decided to do Paris and not ProWein, where we will have less than last year, and from operators. It is not a big numbers fair, and maybe no one has big numbers anymore. In fact, maybe it is the concept of the fair also that needs to be rethought, in general. But if Paris wants to unhinge ProWein, it needs to invest more in incoming. On logistics and costs, however, there is no match, not only on connections: in Paris you can book a hotel even a week in advance, at a quarter of what you spend in Dusseldorf 6 months in advance. On the future, much will depend on ProWein 2024, which is now really just around the corner: if it is underwhelming, as in past years, many will not return. On the other hand, Paris has a much smaller exhibition space, and growing it will not be easy”. Decidedly positive, and in line with everyone else's, is the view of Alan Gaddi, export manager of the Friulian label Zorzettig: “certainly the logistics of Paris, even in the preparatory phase, are very effective, also to get in touch with buyers. Many visitors take the opportunity to prefer the French pavilion, especially those who will then go to Vinitaly and ProWein. Paris, however, does not feel the fair from the point of view of costs, transportation, hospitality: it is a growing fair, for sure, for producers and visitors, there is a good movement, everything works well logistically, and this also helps. Personally, though, I think the approach of fairs has been the same for 20 years, while the world has changed. And doing three big fairs is a very heavy commitment, logistically and economically, doing two, may be the right fit, so choices will probably have to be made. Unless the trade show players themselves come up with different formats, maybe something biennial, or it is likely that in the long run three large events will not be sustainable. With the choice being between ProWein and Vinexpo, while Vinitaly, with its specificity, is less in question”. “Effectively speaking with importers and distributors, everyone prefers Paris”, Mario Piccini, at the helm of Piccini 1882, explains further, “getting there is easier and the city and logistics are easier to manage. There is easier access to such a big and beautiful city than Dusseldorf. I don't see any problems with coexistence with French wines, on the contrary. We were among the first and always present even in Bordeaux, which 30 years ago was "the" international wine fair. Then it slowly became more of a party for big producers, logistically difficult to reach, and ProWein, in those years, took that space. Now, however, with Paris, there is a bit of a return to the old business fair, concrete, as Bordeaux once was. Certainly between ProWein and Paris certainly some companies will have to choose, but Paris will always be more important. Looking at the market, on the other hand, we see that red wines are doing”, Mario Piccini concludes, “a little bit of struggle, a little bit of reflection on certain types of wine is there. Consumers, too, in an economic period that is not particularly good, are reflecting where to spend money, and wine is not being a necessity, a first choice, a little bit will suffer this. But perhaps Italian wine feels the crisis less than others, thanks to the “Italy territory”, the promotion done in the world, through catering, but not only. It has a more transversal and inclusive approach even with young people. But, more generally, I think that 2024 will be a year where we still play with 'catenaccio,' waiting for better times”.

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