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Millésime BIO 2024 – The organic wine world gathers again in Montpellier

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In the last three decades organic wine has evolved dramatically, in both quality and market placement. From an obscure trend, often misinterpreted as anathema to balance and character, organic certification is now almost a compulsory requirement among professionals and consumers alike.

This fast and dramatic change owes much to Millésime BIO, the world’s largest and most respected event focused solely on organic wines. The brainchild of SubVinBio, the body representing the organic growers and producers of Occitane, Millésime BIO was first held in 1993. From its humble beginnings showing mostly wine from southern France, the professional event has since become the world’s most important gathering of organic producers, with industry stakeholders converging in Montpellier year on year.

Communication as priority

Jeanne Fabre, responsible for tourism operations at Famille Fabre and President of Millésime BIO’s organising committee, highlights that although it’s experienced such dramatic growth, the event is still faithful to its founding ethos. ‘Millésime BIO remains an event developed by and for organic producers. It’s very important for us to stay true to our core values.’ She highlights that the event is driven by a collective energy: ‘Millésime BIO mobilises important shared resources to support all the organic producers that exhibit with us.’

Although the market and demand for organic wine has evolved since the early 1990s, Fabre believes that there is still a lot of work to be done. ‘The commercial success of organic wines has led to the conversion of a large number of producers,’ explains Fabre. ‘This means that there is a lot more organic wine available and that we must work to develop both existing and new markets. This requires us to explain the benefits of organic agriculture for the planet and for the wellbeing of both producers and consumers,’ she expands.

The ubiquity of wine bearing sustainability stamps on market shelves has caused a risk of dilution and misinformation. As such, Millesime BIO’s core mission has become perhaps even more important. ‘One of the great challenges for producers, négociants and distributors, as well as journalists, is having a clear and understandable message,’ stresses Fabre. ‘[Sustainability] certifications have multiplied – which is in itself positive as it shows consumers are looking for quality – but this also means that organic wines risk being placed alongside products with questionable accolades. We must be very precise and transparent in order to avoid greenwashing,’ she warns.

Millésime BIO is, precisely, a place where producers and négociants are given a chance to sell their wines while communicating, first hand, the realities of working organically. The event’s buyer’s programme, which sponsors the visit of market representatives from all over the world, has allowed the development of an important international network. Today, producers from 15 countries present their wines to visitors from more than 50 markets, across all five continents.

Jeanne Fabre, President of Millésime BIO’s organising committee

Always evolving

In 2021, faced with the travel restrictions and logistical challenges caused by Covid19, Millésime BIO organised its first digital edition to much acclaim and success. This has since become an important complement to the physical event although, Fabre stresses, ‘the numbers of digital-only visitors is anecdotal compared to that of physical visitors. There really is a recognition of the value and potential of the personal, face-to-face interaction and of the potential to talk and interact in person.’

There’s a lot to look forward to at Millésime BIO’s 2024 edition, the year that marks 100 years since the biodynamic certification was first conceptualised. For the first time there will be areas within the Œnothèque zones (open pour sections, where visitors can taste freely, at their own pace), dedicated to Biodynamic-certified wines and wines sold in bulk. ‘We’ve recognised that there’s great demand for quality organic wines sold in bulk,’ explains Fabre. ‘We therefore think it should be easy for négociants and buyers to be able to taste the new vintages in a flexible way,’ she says. Organisers are also placing renewed focus on the other alcoholic beverages – beer, cider and spirits – bearing an organic stamp.

The coming edition of Millésime BIO will also introduce a biodiversity award (La Biodiversité, c’est mon domaine !) in partnership with the local Chamber of Agriculture and the LPO (Ligue de Protection des Oiseaux). This will highlight the many ways in which organic farming contributes to balanced and diverse ecosystems by recognising the efforts of producers particularly committed to biodiversity.

While the event itself will remain reserved for professionals, 2024 will, for the first time, open the celebration of organic viticulture to the local community. ‘La Fête du Vin Bio’ will extend the event to the restaurants and wine shops in the centre of Montpellier. ‘It’s a way to support the venues that will welcome the event’s visitors in any case, while also communicating the fundamental message of organic wines to a wider audience of wine lovers,’ Fabre says.

Ahead of the 31st edition of Millésime BIO, SudVinBio renews the quest it embarked on upon the event’s creation: to communicate the value of organic farming and support the growers, producers and négociants that adopt it as a philosophy. Efforts that extend well beyond the limits and time frames of the January event, including lobbying, education and research activities are happening all year round. The quest continues!

22/23 January 2024 (digital)
29 to 31 January 2024
Registration now open

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