The first face-to-face international wine fair organised in Europe and the United States in 2021 will take pace between November 22 and 23 in Amsterdam as the World Bulk Wine Exhibition returns for what will be an even more important show as it will be the first time that producers and key wine buyers will have had to get together, taste wines and get down to the business of buying and selling wine. Here is what to expect at this year’s event.
The winners and losers in the world’s wine harvests will be laid bare at the World Bulk Wine Exhibition as buyers look to taste and get their hands on the right grape varieties at the right prices at what is going to be an even more important trade fair than normal.
As if trading conditions have not been hard enough over the last 18 months, with the impact of the global pandemic on the international wine industry, but producers in so many of the world’s most important wine producing markets have been hit by bad weather and are now having to deal with the subsequent fallout in terms of smaller harvests, and potentially less wines to sell.
It is not the ideal condition for so many producers to head to Amsterdam in November to take part in the latest edition of the World Bulk Wine Exhibition. Just when they needed a full portfolio of wines to sell to try and make up for the disruption that Covid-19 has caused, many are going to have to raise their prices in order to make the most from whatever limited stocks they have to sell.
But at least there is business to be done and a trade fair open for business. Providing there are no last minute changes this will be the first WBWE since November 2019 when no-one had heard of Covid-19 and international travel was just part of our daily lives.
Fast forward two years and the world is a very different place. For a start the fair might be open for business, but it does not mean producers and buyers will be able to travel from all the countries that normally take part. Australasia, in particular, will be absent with no brokers, buyers and producers coming from Australia and New Zealand, in particular, as their travel bans continue.
But that does not mean their wines won’t be in strong demand. Even if producers may not be there in person their wines will be available to taste and there will be a lot of interest from buyers looking to fill gaps that they are going to find from their European ledgers this year.
By November the full picture in Europe will be known, but already most of the major northern European countries are predicting big falls in production.
France, in particular, has been badly affected with what some analysts fear could be one of the smallest harvests in the country’s long history. The true picture will soon emerge but the French Ministry of Agriculture is predicting a slump of anywhere up to 30%. Resulting in what could be the country’s smallest wine harvest since 1997.
Italy has also been affected by spring frosts, and whilst not as severe as France, it is thought production levels will be down with Coldiretti, the Itallian agricultural organisation, predicting a shortfall of up to 10% overall, with some regions doing worst. That would see total production of around 44 million hectolitres to 47 million hl.
In Spain, Asaja (Association of Young Farmers), which is one of the most conservative organisations in terms of its estimates, has said the country’s total harvest could be closer to 39-40 million hectolitres, down 15% on last year. But with a particularly hot August that figure could be lower.
Restart your business
But what happens in France, Spain and Italy also has a knock-on effect on wine and grape prices in Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. By how much will be played out at WBWE. It certainly makes it more complicated in terms of searching for and being able to source and secure affordable and quality wine at prices that buyers need. Which is where WBWE’s trading floor comes into its own.
It is also why WBWE organisers are positioning this year’s show as being the time to “Restart Your Business” both in terms of doing trades, but also the chance to catch up network with professionals from all over the world and take part in WBWE’s extensive seminar and debate programme featuring talks on key aspects of wine trends, developments, climate change and more.
The conference programme includes talks on: how the wine industry is changing; the new business platforms; the importance of the circular economy; the benefits of consumers from the perspective of bulk wine; adaptation to new trends; new transformations in terms of logistics; changes in packaging and design methods. These topics will be discussed by the most prominent experts.
You can also catch up on a series of talks hosted by wine commentator and producer, Robert Joseph over the last few months where he has interviewed many leading wine figures – from Bernard Fontannaz at Origin Wine to Greg Livengood at Ciatti – in a series of online interviews. All of which help set the scene for the debates and talks to be held at WBWE 2021.