This year’s Vinexpo, the longest-standing of the big three wine tradeshows worldwide, was held in Bordeaux from 16 to 20 June 2013, where it saw its share of rainy days, the expected flashy pavilions, and a 14% increase in visitors from China.

Arrivals at Vinexpo 2013 Bordeaux. Photo: Frédéric Desmesure & Philippe Labeguerie © Vinexpo

Arrivals at Vinexpo 2013 Bordeaux. Photo: Frédéric Desmesure & Philippe Labeguerie © Vinexpo

Organisers said that of the 48,858 attendees from 148 countries, nearly 38% were from outside France. This international presence was felt by both exhibitors and buyers. “I’ve been at the past four editions of Vinexpo,” Germán Carrasco, Europe area manager for the Argentine winery Bodega del Fin del Mundo, “and was expecting to contact my actual importers, and to meet new importers from Eastern Europe and Asia.” Asia turned out “quite well,” Carrasco said to Vino247, with “a lot of Chinese people” present.

French wine agent Alice McLeod Dumas, who with her company All For One Wines represents châteaux like Monconseil Gazin, Spencer La Pujade and de Cabidos, also received significant interest from Asia, despite the challenge of being located in one of the side halls.

The lavish booths of the Main Hall. Photo: Frédéric Desmesure & Philippe Labeguerie

The lavish booths of the Main Hall. Photo: Frédéric Desmesure & Philippe Labeguerie © Vinexpo

 

The bridge that shortcuts from the Main Hall to annex halls. Photo: Philippe Labeguerie © Vinexpo

The bridge that shortcuts from the Main Hall to annex halls. Photo: Philippe Labeguerie © Vinexpo

Location, Location, Location & The Organic Factor
“The geography of Vinexpo is important – if you’re at one end, then going to the other is a major undertaking, so people often don’t bother,” she said.

For those brave enough to cross the red-carpet suspension walkway traversing the Bordeaux-Lac, there was on June 18th and 19th an annex tasting of organic and biodynamic wines, under the banner of Expression Bio. Originally conceived as one of the famous “off” events, the event was integrated into the larger Vinexpo in 2011. This year saw the participation of about 130 producers from all around France.

Julien Cuisset of Château Grinou in Bergerac said that Expression Bio offered a more affordable option than the pricey pavilions for which Vinexpo is traditionally known. His family took part with the goal of re-connecting with buyers met at Prowein and Millésime Bio. While noting that representatives from Germany, the UK, China, Scandinavia, Belgium, Canada and France had stopped by his table, Cuisset said that there was a lack of presence of American buyers.

The Americans, Market Trends,  Connectivity & Connecting
Over in the main halls, agent McLeod Dumas similarly noted the absence of Americans.

From a buyer’s perspective, Shimshon Welner, director of the Israel-based international kosher wine producers Welner Wines, said that he was seeing a “big change” in the market, moving from “real, good wines, to soda pop and fruit”, something he could not have foreseen 10, five or even three years back. There were 2400 exhibitors overall at this year’s Vinexpo.

But like many, he regretted the lack of internet accessibility in the 3 halls of the main show, noting that it was impossible to connect with people as a result.

One Montréal, Québec-based importer, Lucie Cuny of agency La Céleste Levure, said: “It’s what we expected here, a lot of big brands.” She was at Vinexpo with her colleagues to look for new wines and to reconnect with wineries they already import.

But it’s clear that Vinexpo, if important for reaffirming contacts and maintaining visibility, is not always the place to find new business partners, at least for more traditional wine regions. Said one Loire producer in the main hall: “It’s been ok. Vinexpo is a good place to meet people, but you won’t do business until they come to your domaine. I only know a few buyers here because my winery is rather new.”

New Business & The Asian Factor
This sentiment was echoed by a number of producers, including Argentina’s Carrasco, who explained that new business opportunities were created more so at Prowein, and increasingly, for the Asian market at Vinexpo Hong Kong—the Hong Kong edition takes place in years opposite Vinexpo France.

As McLeod Dumas said: “Vinexpo [Bordeaux] has become a show that is well attended by Asian buyers. Many of the importers I know in the European Union dislike the show—today many are boycotting and going to Prowein instead. Can’t say I blame them—it’s much better organised too.”

Asian attendees were increasingly visible throughout Vinexpo. Photo: Frédéric Desmesure & Philippe Labeguerie © Vinexpo

Asian attendees were increasingly visible throughout Vinexpo Bordeaux. Photo: Frédéric Desmesure & Philippe Labeguerie © Vinexpo

 
Newbies Working It
On the other hand, first-time participant Winery Khareba from the country of Georgia has already received an order—from Hong Kong. Export manager Beka Khergiani told Vino247: “It was very productive; we met many potential importers from France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Colombia, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Hong Kong and China. The results are quite surprising.”

He estimated that overall, 70% of the visitors to his booth were business-orientated and 30% “just curious people” who wanted to taste something new.

The tents of the Restaurant, Brasserie and Garden areas. Photo: Philippe Labeguerie © Vinexpo

The tents of the Restaurant, Brasserie and Garden areas.Photo: Philippe Labeguerie © Vinexpo

 

About Author

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Magdalena Rahn is the North America Senior Manager for wine, beer & spirits, at Ubifrance—the French Trade Office, based in New York City. Before moving back to the States in 2010, she spent many years as a journalist and translator in Bulgaria, where she fell in love with the country’s wine, language, music and fermented vegetables. In 2009 she returned to France to study for an MSc in wine management with OIV / Université de Paris X. Views & words herein are her own.

(2) Readers Comments

  1. avatar

    Very interesting account of the wine expo. Any idea why so few Americans attended? Thanks for you excellent writing.

  2. avatar

    Thanks for your comment. It could be because Americans are at this point focussing more on wines they already have in their portfolios, or because Vinexpo is more of a place to re-see actual clients instead of finding new ones. In this latter case, many buyers prefer to go directly to the domaine instead of a large trade fair.

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