Vinexpo will be full despite the increasing lack of participation from the New World and other high-profile absences.
CEO Robert Beynat told decanter.com that the bi-annual event, which will take place on 21–25 June, is full to capacity, with every exhibitor space filled.
‘We have been sold out since Christmas – and we have a waiting list,’ he said, adding that they are expecting 40,000–50,000 visitors, although keeping visitor numbers up in the recession would be ‘a challenge’.
Beynat also claimed that Vinexpo is the ‘flag’ for the global wine industry: ‘We have 2,400 companies from 45 countries.
In answer to the criticism that Vinexpo was too French-focussed he said that was natural: ‘Since the beginning, we’ve had 50–55% French exhibitors, in terms of floor space. We have to respect the market. France is a very strong producer, and a very strong exporter.’
‘At Vinexpo, if you want to meet the chairman of De Bortoli or Taittinger, they will be there. At the London International Wine Fair, you meet the agent – that’s a big difference. The LIWF is much smaller than us, and it’s really dedicated to the British market.
Beynat countered the charge that some generic organisations – particularly from the New World – have turned their backs on Vinexpo.
For New Zealand, he said that the country ‘doesn’t have a lot of wine, and they have sold it all already’.
The lack of a generic Australian pavilion is ‘because of the drought’; and the drop in numbers of Chilean exhibitors is down to ‘consolidation’.
Beynat is also unfazed at the absence of giants such as Pernod Ricard and Diageo: ‘Pernod Ricard has its own distribution. We would like to have them, as we would Diageo, but Diageo doesn’t need to come in order to sell Johnnie Walker.’
New features of the 2009 event include a general assembly of sommeliers, to be held in Bordeaux the day before Vinexpo opens; two new restaurants; and a new tram service designed to ease the lengthy delays visitors encounter with the heavy Bordeaux traffic.
Written by Stuart Peskett