Considering the world of winemaking has a gravitational pull towards France it’s a wonder that Paris has not been seen as the ideal host for wine events and exhibitions. OK, it does not make wine itself, but it is one of the most important and influential markets and who does not like the opportunity to go to Paris? It was therefore no surprise that when Wine Paris was launched earlier this year it was an immediate success. The time has come to start to prepare for the second Wine Paris that takes place in February 2020 with an even bigger focus on organic and environmental wines. Here’s what to expect.
Wine Paris offers the chance to taste wines from big, small, independent and artisan growers and producers from across France, Europe and increasingly the New World.
“What is good about this event is it gives you the time to look and taste wine and see new producers and is not just back to back meetings with people you are already working with.” That’s not just how Simon Jerrome, head of wine buying at Matthew Clark, described this year’s inaugural Wine Paris event in February, but how so many of the near 27,000 visitors who attended the event came away feeling.
It certainly fits well with the ambitions and targets of the Wine Paris team, and the Comexposium Group the global events organiser behind it. They are only too aware of the competition and opportunity that international wine buyers have to attend other, bigger, longer and more established shows. To stand out it had to be different. Which, in the main, meant striking the right balance between having both big producers, co-operatives and generic bodies attending, whilst also having the magic and intrigue that only smaller, artisan and independent growers can bring.
This is where the idea to merge what had been Vino Vision with Vini Sud together has worked so well. It gives both a new, bigger, more focused platform to show their wines. And it gives buyers two, three or four times more reasons to visit.
Like Noel Reid, wine buyer at Robinsons Brewery who said the reason he “liked it a lot” was that he could visit “everyone I need to see from France in one place over a couple of days”. “It’s been very productive and a very good fair for us. I like the fact Vinisud is now part of this bigger fair as Paris is so much easier for us to get to from Manchester. It works well and I can see this being a real alternative to Prowein, which is now too big and too hard to get around. Here you have the time to taste and meet new people and not be just stuck in meetings or getting around.”
Or Tim North, founder of Joie de Vin, who again said the show worked for him as it was a good combination of small, medium sized players alongside the bigger brands and names across France. “Here it is all about tasting. It has created a good atmosphere for that and the fact you have everyone you want to see from across France.”
The official figures from last year’s event shows there was 2,000 exhibitors present, 84% of which came from every region of France, but with also some wines and representatives from 24 other European and northern hemisphere countries. The hope is it can build its non-European exhibitor base at the 2020 show, but it will be a tall order to get close to its target set at this year’s show to have at least 25% of the space going to non-French exhibitors – up from 16% in 2019. But it has already succeeded in getting the international buyers to come. Of the 26,700 visitors in 2019, 30% were from outside France – 51% of which were split between the US, Belgium, the UK Germany and the Netherlands.
What next for 2020?
So how does Wine Paris deliver and build on this success in 2020? Well, for a start it has teamed up with Vinexpo to host a joint event in February which can only help not only raise its own profile, but give buyers an extra reason for putting Paris in their diaries. Quite how the two shows will work together, or alongside each other, remains to be seen but they will be very separate, with their own clear goals.
One of the key new features at Wine Paris will be the launch of Wonderful, a new initiative designed to help buyers identify, understand and differentiate between the various environmental certifications there are in France, Europe and the world.
Organic wines was already a key focus of the 2019 Wine Paris event, with so many of its Vini Sud growers following biodynamic and green practices. This year’s show will look to formalise and take that on to the next stage, in direct response to the growing interest from retail and on-trade customers and consumers alike for more organic and biodynamic wines.
But with so many different schemes and certificates out there it can be confusing for buyers to know exactly what it is they are tasting and how it has been made. Europe, for example, is said to have 30 such certifications, and there are at least 50 around the world all with their own rules and regulations to understand.
Wonderful has been set up to help buyers, wine merchants, sommeliers, restaurateurs, retailers and importers make better sense of what schemes and wines are out there and which ones are the most suitable to their business needs.
Wonderful will, in turn, help growers, co-operatives and negociants that have committed to at least one organic or environmental scheme to show what they are doing. In particular it will focus on wines that are signed up to the following schemes or ways of making wine: organic (AB and Euro Leaf) or in conversion; biodynamic (Biodyvin and Demeter); HVE (High Environmental Value); ISO 14001 environmental management certification; CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility); ISO 26000.
On February 11 there will be a dedicated ‘Wonderful Day’ with a series of presentations, round table debates and workshops to help delebates really get to grips with the issues at hand including:
Family portrait: gaining a better understanding of the range of organic and eco-friendly certifications
How valuable are organic certifications in the global marketplace?
Does biodynamic winegrowing change the flavour of wine?
When vine growing goes green, what are the effects on supply for wine merchants, the on-trade and in supermarkets?
The initiative has already gained support from leading importers. Including Alastair Pyatt, head buying for Jascots Wine Merchants in the UK. He said: “Organic wine and sustainable wine production is becoming more important every day here in the UK. Jascots is working to convert more and more of our range to be as sustainable as possible, so it is crucial that producers and Wine Paris do the same to retain interest and engage effectively with their customers. Wonderful is a great initiative”.
Catherine Corbeau Mellot, president of Joseph Mellot, Sancerre, Centre Loire in France, hopes being able to hear and share “testimonials by producers from all backgrounds” will help better understand what growers are doing. “Joseph Mellot’s estates take an holistic approach to the environment and are strongly committed to growing vines sustainably. Our vineyards are certified HVE 3 (High Environmental Value), one of them is farmed organically (AB) and our winery is certified ISO 14001,” she explains.
Being able to find organic wines is a key a reason for buyers to attend, says Alleah Friedrichs, co-founder and president, Bliss Wine Imports in California: “Wine Paris is an extremely well-organised event that focuses on organic wines. Wines created without the use of synthetic pesticides and additives is a growing trend in the USA, so an event like this is extremely useful. In 2019, I was able to narrow down my meeting schedule to highly relevant appointments.”
Wine Paris will once again host Vinisud, which is the largest trade fair dedicated to southern French wines wines; Vinovision Paris, focused cool climate wines, which was was launched in 2017 by the wine marketing boards in the Loire Valley, Centre-Loire, Burgundy, Beaujolais and Alsace and by the Champagne winegrowers’ organisation SGV.
Wine Paris will be held from Monday February 10 to Wednesday February 12 at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles. For more information click here.