A number of New World exhibitors have pulled out of this year’s Vinexpo for a series of reasons – among them the high cost of taking a stand and the air conditioning failure two years ago.

New Zealand Winegrowers, Wines of South Africa and the Australian Wine Bureau will not be exhibiting this year.

The Wine Institute of California will be participating but E&J Gallo will not. ‘This is due to internal factors,’ Vinexpo spokeswoman Janet Burns told decanter.com, adding that the company was ‘reducing its commercial presence in Europe in general.’

One of the reasons cited for withdrawing this year was the way New World producers were treated in 2003. The air conditioning broke down in Hall 3, where most of the New World exhibitors were placed, leading to unbearable temperatures in what was one of the hottest summers on record. At the time there was huge dissatisfaction at the way Vinexpo dealt with what amounted to a crisis for the exhibitors.

Caroline Parks of New Zealand Winegrowers told just-drinks.com, ‘We didn’t get the support from wineries this year. Trying to hold a professional wine tasting in those temperatures was not good. We had to take a position to pull out.’

It is understood New Zealand will be taking extra space at the London International Wine and Spirit Fair in May. According to some reports there is a general feeling amongst New Zealand wine professionals that the cost of taking a stand is prohibitive.

Burns confirmed the generic New Zealand body would not be at the fair but the country’s wines would be present through importers. She confirmed also that the Australian Wine Bureau would not be there.

‘Vinexpo has been aware for several months that the Australian Wine Bureau was not exhibiting. However Austrade will be present through major brands such as Constellation and through Austrade.’

Wines of South Africa will not be participating. ‘One reason for this is that there have been cuts in government subsidies to the wine sector. Leading brands such as Western Wines and Distell will be present and the surface area will be roughly half of that in 2003,’ Burns said.

Other New World bodies such as Wines of Chile will be participating. Finally Burns said Hall 3 had been rebuilt, and all exhibitors who had been affected by the breakdown in air conditioning in 2003 had been compensated.

Written by Adam Lechmere