Globally local

19 May, 2017

Wines of Georgia and Wines of Germany are two big producers returning to the fair after nearly 10 years of absence.

“It’s a real coup for us to have them with us because German wines are of particular interest to the trade, a real trade favourite.”

Olympia is a 43,000sq m venue which hosts a wide variety of retail shows.

“There’s no doubt that moving from the Excel building in east London a few years back has helped make the event what it is today,” says Carter.

“At Excel it had become one of the big continental wine events, very brand driven with big stands. We wanted to reinvent the wine fair in Olympia so we moved our focus to on-trade independent retail, such as restaurants and wine merchants.

“What we want to do is take our progress from the past three years and deliver it smoothly,

“In this trade a lot of business is done over dinner at restaurants or in bars so it’s important to have the fair somewhere such as Olympia in the heart of west London.”

Because the event is held in Britain, the world’s largest wine importer, is it such a ridiculous idea to expect any home representation?

“There’s never been a bigger selection of UK businesses taking part at the wine fair. That’s been true every year since we moved back to Olympia four years ago.

“In terms of the interest levels of British production wines we’ve seen a significant increase. We sent out a questionnaire to our exhibitors that showed England is the fifth most interested-in country exhibiting wines at the show, beating the likes of South Africa, New Zealand and Argentina, and we’re expecting around 20 British wine producers to be present.

“We’ve been very conscious to create an event that reflects the business it serves, in that there are opportunities for anyone, from importers of just two people, to people in a garage, to London’s biggest importer.”

TECH SAVY

Everyone who attends the show can forget about trawling through their fair book to find information on every wine they wish to taste. Instead there’s a geeky but efficient way of doing it.

“We partnered with a German wine tech firm a couple of years ago called Bottle Books, which has a global data warehouse of wines with all of their details logged online. A problem the trade had faced for a number of years was that there was no one version of the truth when it came to a wine and its facets.

“At the show this year we will have the most advanced search facility for product information in the world. This means at the fair you’ll be able to access this data and look up the 7,000 wines on show at the event.

“Obviously we couldn’t just create a book because it would be thousands of pages long, but now with this data hub it will be easy to navigate and get the most out of the experience.”

Earlier this year the WSTA Bordeaux show announced its plans to discuss Brexit in-depth and London will be no different.

“We’ve got two British MPs hosting a discussion surrounding Brexit and we’re very close with the WSTA as well, which has released Brexit documents 50 pages long.

“It’s a unique situation with Brexit and the wine business in that 99.9% of the product is imported and it’s typically large-produce, low profit margin, particularly in the mass production market, which accounts for the vast majority.

“When exchange rates fluctuate as frequently as they have in recent times it’s had a significant impact on the industry. Whatever happens in the next two to 10 years the simple fact is that the market has already been hit hard as a result of exchange rates in the past six months.”

The London Wine Fair has the potential to inspire independent retailers from around the world, expand local wineries into big UK brands, increase distribution of quality wines, perhaps internationally, and even solve a potential crisis for the largest wine importing country on the planet. So why not?





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