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New World breakaway faction not a worry: Vinexpo chief

Vinexpo chief executive Robert Beynat is not worried about a New World alternative to the biennial wine fair, insisting the countries involved will ask for ‘square metres’ as they always do.

Beynat was responding to the news that – out of growing dissatisfaction with Vinexpo – generic associations from Australia, New Zealand, California, South Africa, Chile and Argentina may consider staging their own event just before next year’s Vinexpo.

Beynat told decanter.com he is seeking legal advice on an email survey sent out by the informal grouping of producers, designed to gauge feelings about the proposed event.

‘I will call my lawyer, because they used our name,’ he said. ‘I don’t like people utilising the name of Vinexpo on this kind of questionnaire.’

But he said the prospect of a New World wine event – in London or elsewhere in Europe – did not worry him. ‘At the end of June 2008 we will open the doors for 2009. I’m sure before the end of the summer, all these countries will ask for square metres.

‘The more shows there are about wine in the world, the more people will appreciate wine and the more buyers will appreciate the shows – and in the end they will come to Vinexpo. No, I am not afraid.’

Beynat rebutted claims that there were ongoing logistical issues with Vinexpo, saying there had been one ‘small problem’ with the air conditioning at last year’s event.

And he suggested that New World wine companies had suffered because of their own lack of preparation for the show, rather than because of any perceived bias towards France and the Old World.

Beynat said he had no immediate plans to meet the New World generic associations, although all except Australia would be at Vinexpo Asia-Pacific in Hong Kong at the end of May.

‘Probably they will prefer to sell their wine rather than speak to me. But if somebody asks for a meeting with me, why not?’

Written by Richard Woodard

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