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Winestars World producers battle it out for international listings

Published:  02 April, 2013

Six out of the 10 competing producers at the inaugural Winestars World competition held at last week's Prowein walked away with significant interest from at least one of the wine buyer judges, writes Erin Smith.

The competition, which is an extension of the Winestars event first held at last year's LIWF, is an X-Factor style competition where wine producers battle it out to get the chance to do five-minute sales pitch to major international buyers.

The judges at Prowein 2013 included buyers from Germany, Switzerland, Poland, UK (Direct Wines), the US, India, Russia and Ireland representing major retail chains, online retailers, importers and consultants. The line-up included: Justin Howard Sneyd, Direct Wines (UK and global); Lynne Coyle, O'Briens (Ireland); Pawel Swiader, Grand Cru/Dobre Wina (Poland); Alexander Khatiashvili, Simple (Russia); Felix Christen, Winiconsult Wine&More and Josh Wesson (both the US) and Nicko Williamson, winner of the 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year award.

Seventy-eight producers from around the world entered the competition, with submissions being evaluated on the wine's overall production and logistics strategy, its label, wine quality, its story and marketing plans, and price.

Diogo Albino, of Torre do Frade, in Alentejo Portugal, who was looking for international listings for its VIRGO wine brand, said: "This contest evaluates the structure and sustainability of wine projects based on the judgment of people who are really into the wine business and can give us producers direct feedback over our product's potential."

Torre do Frade's VIRGO brand proved to be one of the most unique concepts presented at the competition. The brand enables consumers to give direct feedback, via its peel and stick label concept (which includes a long hanging collar around the neck of the bottle). Consumers are invited to take part in an online competition to help design its next wine label. The three best consumer-created labels are produced every two months with the final labels including mini drawings from consumers who have sent in their work.

Catherine Monahan, founder and chief executive of Winestars World said: "Winestars World has become a platform, for helping not only small, medium and large sized wineries, but also UK and global importers who collaborate with wineries to create smart market-researched brands. The focus is on creating long-term business relationships, sustainable wine plans and ultimately, sales, making it a win-win for everyone."

Winestars World first debuted at the London International Wine Fair in 2012, focusing on the UK market. The competition continues to expand with other events being held in Miami, Las Vegas, Prowine (China) in 2013 and potentially Brazil. Winestars World LIWF 2013 is currently accepting submissions from producers to pitch at the London International Wine Fair 2013 that will be held in May 20-22.