Florida is set to become the second largest wine consumer in the United States – and it's launching a wine fair in Miami to celebrate.

The sunshine state had the fastest growing wine market in the US last year, with an estimated US$1.5 billion (€1.7bn) in wines sales, up 50% since 1993. And according to research*, it will overtake New York State as the No 2 wine consumer in the US by 2002, behind California in the top spot.

Miami International Wine Fair takes place in May this year. Adding to the packed trade fair schedule in 2002, its aim is to promote international wines to Florida consumers and the trade. Organisers claim it is ‘one of the largest and most ambitious efforts to promote the wine trade in the Americas,’ and they hope to attract hundreds of international wine producers and over 10,000 visitors.

Established wine fairs such as Vinitaly, the London Wine Trade Fair and Germany’s Prowein are all taking place this year, with Vinexpo Americas opening in October in New York. But MIWF’s David Bernad still sees a window in the US market. ‘We want something in this continent which is less focussed on the American market and more open to international wines and consumers.’

Bernad believes the event should attract more consumers, with a larger population than New York State. ‘Miami is better positioned than New York in this way,’ he said. ‘Plus, Florida is a great import market because, unlike California, it doesn’t produce wine.’

The line up at the three-day event follows the standard trade fair routine. Up to 300 exhibitors will be packed into the Radisson Convention Center in Miami, where there will be business seminars, wine and food matching, celebrity chefs and even a cigar lounge.

The event has signed up 60 wineries from 13 countries so far. Bernad admits that it’s been a hard task attracting exhibitors. ‘It hasn’t been easy. We need to bring in enough trade, or we won’t be able to have this event next year,’ he said. ‘But we’re on the right track.’

*National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates, The Wine Institute, US Census, Miami International Wine Fair

Written by Tom Chippendale22 January 2002