They weren't queuing round the block for the first Miami International Wine Fair – but organisers are confident it's still going to be the biggest trade show in the Americas.

Attendance figures were lower than expected, and the Fair – held over the weekend of 10-12 May – didn’t attract big-name California wineries like Mondavi, Gallo and Sutter Home. But the organisers are bullish about the possibilities.

‘It was not what we expected,’ spokeswoman Jen Massolo told decanter.com. ‘But this was our first year, and we’ve started something that has a great future.’

Massolo said the show would come to be ‘the trade show of the Americas,’ pointing out that Florida was the USA’s fastest-growing wine market and that communications with Latin America were ideal.

Half of the 230 wineries present didn’t yet have US distribution deals, something organisers were ‘very proud of,’ Massolo said. ‘Many of these events are distributor-led – there is a monopoly. This was producer-led.’

North American wineries were not well-represented. ‘We had less support nationwide, as wineries are reluctant to go to a new event. It’s not the London Trade Fair,’ Massolo said.

But she added organisers were delighted with the attendance from Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. One observer said, ‘There was a first-rate selection of Uruguayan and Portuguese wines. The emphasis was not, as many might expect, on California. Evidently the trade presence was not strong, but consumers seemed very pleased with the quality of the exhibitors.’

‘It was a great platform for business,’ Massolo said. ‘We will run it next year. We’ll need a whole lot of help but we’ve got a year to do it and we’ll do it with all the energy we have.’

  • The London International Wine and Spirits Fair takes place at ExCel in London’s Docklands, London E16 1XR, 21-23 May 2002

    Written by Adam Lechmere15 May 2002