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New World countries to pull out of Vinexpo?

The New World is considering collectively pulling out of Vinexpo in favour of a rival event elsewhere in Europe, decanter.com has learned.

The idea, described by one interested party as ‘very embryonic’, comes amid mounting frustration at what is perceived to be an event favouring Old World producing countries, and more specifically France.

Generic bodies representing Australia, California, South Africa, Chile, Argentina and New Zealand met at Germany’s Prowein trade fair in March to discuss the issue.

They decided to send out a questionnaire to key members of the international wine trade, asking their opinion of ‘an exclusive professional wine show’, slated for a major European city on the eve of next June’s Vinexpo event in Bordeaux.

The round-robin email, sent by the grouping of New World producers, continues: ‘While this would be an excellent and convenient opportunity for the international trade to meet with a large number of the New World wine producers in one location, most of which [are] not exhibiting at Vinexpo, it may require extra travel for trade guests. Therefore, we are currently studying the feasibility of such a wine show.’

Another option put forward is a ‘New World Wine Show’ over three days in London in September or October next year, replacing the generic tastings traditionally held by several countries.

‘Vinexpo increasingly, we feel, is predominantly for French producers, and especially Bordeaux,’ said Michael Cox, UK director of Wines of Chile. ‘While the world of wine is there, it’s not as powerful a vehicle as it could be for many New World producers.’

New World producers have made a series of complaints about the biennial Vinexpo in recent years. During the 2003 heatwave, the air conditioning broke down in one hall, affecting producers from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand in particular. Wines of South Africa, New Zealand Winegrowers and the Australian Wine Export Council all pulled out of the 2005 event.

Cox, who complained about the air conditioning at last year’s Vinexpo, said New World producers were trying to maximise their opportunities, attracting buyers from all over the world. ‘Vinexpo is one fair in the calendar and if it’s not performing as it could or should, then we should look at alternatives,’ he added.

‘But I’m not suggesting for a moment on behalf of Chile that we’re pulling out of Vinexpo. It would be wrong for that impression to be given. Nothing has been decided.’

Vinexpo said it would respond to the news tomorrow (15 May).

In San Francisco, Joseph Rollo, director of international programs at the Wine Institute, confirmed that ‘our European office… has been involved in discussions about a possible event that would focus on New World wine producers’ and take place in Europe around Vinexpo time.

‘We would consider this an add-on rather than an alternative Vinexpo and have no plans to pull out of the show,’ the Wine Institute said. ‘Budget and interest permitting, we would expect to exhibit at the next Vinexpo.

‘While we are not leading the charge, our members have had some longstanding issues with Vinexpo, and involvement has declined somewhat in recent years. In 2007, we had 20 exhibitors showcasing 100-plus wines’ in the California pavilion.

Additional reporting by Howard G Goldberg in New York

Written by Richard Woodard

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