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Coronavirus fears: RAW fair joins growing list of wine events postponed

Concerns about the spread of coronavirus have hit wine events in March, with Burgundy's annual tasting week and natural wine fair RAW in London both postponed after the Prowein trade show in Germany was also called off.

Coronavirus hits wine events

Annual Burgundy wine festival ‘Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne’, will not take place as planned from 9 to 13 March, announced the region’s wine council, the BIVB, late yesterday (2 March). 

It said that going ahead would be ‘irresponsible’ in light of the threat posed by the novel strain of coronavirus, also known as Covid-19.

Its move followed a decision to call off one of the world’s largest trade shows, Prowein in Germany, at the weekend.

This morning (3 March), the organisers of RAW wine fair postponed their London 2020 show, which had been scheduled to for 8 and 9 March. RAW brings together natural, organic, biodynamic and artisan wines from around the world.

‘With so many producers flying in from all over the world, this seems like the right decision for such a large gathering of people and such an international event,’ said Isabelle Legeron MW, the fair’s founder. ‘RAW Wine is a community and we don’t want to put that community at risk.’

Organisers of all three events said they still hoped to reschedule.

The moves highlight the disruption being wrought by Covid-19, as many countries attempted to contain outbreaks of the virus.

Yesterday, Vinexpo Hong Kong organisers said that the trade expo would take place between 8 and 10 July, after earlier cancelling the show’s original May dates.

Difficult decisions

Nearly 2,500 wine professionals, from sommeliers to critics, were expected to arrive in Burgundy from 50 countries for the Grands Jours event, which has been running since 1992.

‘We cannot today guarantee favourable health and safety conditions for our visitors and exhibitors,’ said Raphaël Dubois, president of the Association of Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne. 

‘It is a decision we take with a heavy heart, because we realise the consequences it may have for the wine region and the various organisers of the many facets if this event, official or otherwise. 

‘Taking account of the crowded industry calendar, we are going to look into the best options for rescheduling.’

In Germany, Prowein was postponed last weekend on the advice of the government’s crisis management team, said the show’s organiser, Messe Düsseldorf Group. It said it would ‘promptly discuss an alternative date’ with partners.

Around 61,500 wine trade professionals from 142 different countries visited Prowein 2019 in Germany. The 2020 expo was scheduled for 15 to 17 March.

Werner M. Dornscheidt, CEO of Messe Düsseldorf, said, ‘Our customers, partners and employees trust us. Not only when it comes to the professional and successful handling of major international events in Düsseldorf. They can also have this trust in us when we make decisions about critical situations in the interests of their safety.’

Several wine producers and drinks companies have warned of lower sales due to coronavirus, largely because of weaker demand in China, where the Covid-19 outbreak began and which has seen the majority of cases so far.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) re-emphasised the importance of containment this week.

As of 2 March, it said there had been 8,739 cases outside of China, spread across 61 countries. There had been 127 deaths reported.

See also:

‘Everything has stopped in China’ – Coronavirus hits wine sales


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