You have to go all the way back to 2008 for the first Wine Future event held in Rioja, Spain. A breakthrough event at the time that looked to bring the biggest names, companies and wine brands in the world together to address the key issues facing the sector. Some 15 years later and many of those challenges, if anything , have got worse and a whole lot more have piled up. Which is why Wine Future is returning in November to help the sector address its issues and make the most of untapped opportunities.
Wine Future 2023 is to be held in Coimbra, Portugal between November 7-9. You can find out more about what is taking place here.
Why do you think it is time to run another edition of Wine Future?
Wine Future was created in the middle of the economic crisis of 2008 to analyse its impact on the wine industry and to offer solutions and inspiration to the many companies that were struggling. Wine Future always happens when serious problems are threatening the wine sector or considerable changes are happening. This is why our climate change conference is called Green Wine Future.
Wine Future Hong Kong was organised when the whole world thought the future was in the Asian markets. Wine Future 2021 had to tackle the impacts of the pandemic. Now, once again, the industry is facing serious challenges. We have economic difficulties, especially inflation, but most importantly, wine consumption is plummeting around the world and there is a real lack of interest by the new generations to drink wine. The industry faces tough times ahead.
What are going to be the main themes of this year’s event?
With the technical committee we have grouped the topics into the following areas:
- Engaging new consumers – particularly Generation Z and Millennials.
- The impact of global economic uncertainty, especially inflation.
- The opportunities of greater diversity, equity and inclusion in the wine industry.
- How we can reach new audiences and better engage with existing wine drinkers through celebrity endorsements, influencers, and working with major international music and sporting events.
- The use of digital marketing and social media to gain a new consumers.
- Using new technologies to improve sales.
- What can we learn from the competition from alternative beverages?
- The human impact of sustainability.
Since your first event in Rioja what do you see as being the biggest changes to happen in the global wine industry?
The decrease in global consumption of wine and the over production of wine are two issues that should be taken very seriously. The industry continues to produce more wines, but it doesn’t engage new consumers. There is a surplus of wine.
Are any issues that were relevant back in Rioja still relevant today?
Digital marketing was a big issue raised by Gary Vaynerchuk in Rioja. Although there is a lot of talk about using digital marketing, the wine industry is still behind its competitors. The financial crisis in 2008 is not too dissimilar to the situation the world is now facing with the fall out from the war in Ukraine. We are living with a very unstable economy around the world.
Last but not least, the industry still fails to admit it has a problem communicating about wine and it’s related activities. It still uses a language that is intimidating, especially for the younger generations.
Who do you have lined up to speak at Wine Future 2023?
We always recruit three types of speakers:
- Influential and respected names of the wine industry. We have already lined up key names such as Robert Joseph, Dirceu Viana MW, Martin Reyes MW, Sonal Holland MW, Siobhan Turner MW, Stephen Wong MW and Ulf Sjodin MW and Paul Schaafsma of Benchmark Drinks, the man and business behind the phenomenon that is Kylie Minogue Wine; and Stephen Wang of Summergate.
- Experts from other industries and world leaders and celebrities. This year we are not inviting politicians, such as President Obama, or Vice President Al Gore, because the world is very politically polarised. Instead, we are aiming to have six to eight prominent names that can share their global expertise. These include: Sir Christopher Pissarides, awarded the Nobel Economy price in 2020; the Secretary General of the UN International Youth Organization, Max Trejo; and the lead singer of Iron Maiden and entrepreneur Bruce Dickinson.
Who is the event aimed at?
Like in all past iterations of Wine Future and Green Wine Future, we always target our conferences to trade members and we attract winery owners and management, wine buyers, chief executives, importers and distributors.
We also want to attract those responsible for promoting consumption, communicating about wine, marketeers, people in charge of social media and digital marketing, and retailers. We particularly want to get the insights of major supermarkets, wine shops, hotels, and restaurants because retailers, wine waiters and sommeliers are the first line of attack between the producers and the consumer.
How will Wine Future be organised in terms of talks, debates and a conference?
The conference will feature panels with three or four speakers, plus a moderator, and keynote speeches by some of our guest VIP speakers. There will be four masterclasses and guided tastings, two of which have been confirmed:
- Historical and legendary vintages of Madeira and Porto conducted by Richard Mayson.
- Icon and premium wines of Portugal conducted by Dirceu Viana MW.
Both tastings will also see local producers showing their wines.
There will be a trade fair area to help encourage networking between exhibitors, delegates and speakers.
Are you still looking for people to speak and take part?
Our goal is to have at least 50 to 60 speakers and we are only halfway there. We welcome experts, influential people and anyone with a success story to share that can contribute to any of the panels of the conference. We also have two further masterclasses and tastings to be confirmed. So are very much open to suggestions.
What are your personal thoughts on the wine industry and what you would like to see businesses focusing on?
The wine industry has been very slow in adopting new technologies, admitting its weaknesses and learning from other industries, especially its competition. Wine professionals must change the language used especially with new and younger potential drinkers, making it more consumer friendly and less intimidating.
More marketing budgets must be allocated for the promotion of wine and to engage new generations. Some brands of beer and soft drinks have very high market shares and they still spend billions of dollars in marketing. Celebrity endorsements and sponsoring international events is a tactic that works for many industries and wine should not turn its back to these strategies.
- To find more about Wine Future and how to take part and register then click here.