A new wine fair to rival Vinexpo and Vinitaly is being launched in Milan next year.

The first edition of MiWine, whose president is Ezio Rivella, founder of Banfi, takes place at Fiera Milano next June – and organisers are aiming to fill almost half the 500 stands with non-Italian producers.

In fact, organiser Davide Gaeta of the Unione Italiana Vini is hoping 40% of producers present will be from outside Italy. ‘I don’t want a strong Italian presence,’ he told decanter.com, adding that most of the new sign-ups to the fair were from emerging countries: Brazil, Israel, Lebanon, Moldova, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary.

The organisers want to stress the inclusion of wineries from the eastern Mediterranean countries, the south of France and the south of Italy.

This they feel will set it apart from Vinitaly, which attracts 99% Italian producers, and make Miwine more comparable to Bordeaux’s gargantuan bi-annual Vinexpo than to any purely Italian wine fair. In fact, MiWine’s ultimate goal is to be an international event both for visitors and exhibitors, filling in the ‘alternate year’ every other June when Vinexpo is not running.

Other competition is Vinitaly, which takes place every April, and Turin’s three-year-old Salone del Vino. There has been some speculation that Salone will not run next year, or would move to Rome, but a spokesman assured decanter.com it would go ahead as planned in November 2004.

Gaeta said another objective of MiWine is to be a pure business-to-business fair. It will be open only to the trade, like Vinexpo, but unlike Verona’s annual fair Vinitaly, which admits consumers.

He said Vinexpo, despite – or because of – its size, was not great for business, ‘and at Vinitaly, where the public mix with the trade, producers never know who they are talking to.’

So far, according to Gaeta, 300 of the 500 stands have been signed up. ‘We are covering everything from the small producers who make 20,000 bottles, to Antinori, Zonin, and the big four in Australia,’ he said.

MiWine is also setting great store by its location in Milan, the fashion centre of the world, home to the greatest names in design, from Giorgio Armani to Salvatore Ferragamo, both of whom also own wine estates. During the three days of the fair there will be evening events in the Piazza del Duomo and at La Scala, mixing wine and fashion.

‘All the supermodels will be there,’ Gaeta said.

Despite all this, the organisers must take into account the tempestuous political nature of the Italian wine scene. Salone del Vino for example is ignored by most Tuscan producers and almost all Veronese producers. While the former consider the fair irrelevant, it’s widely understood the latter stay at home through loyalty to Vinitaly, their own fair in Verona.

But Gaeta has great hopes. ‘We don’t want to be overpresumptuous, but there may be a risk of over-booking,’ he said.

Written by Adam Lechmere