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Artisan wine fair RAW announces new Berlin venue, as international visitor numbers grow

Published:  14 April, 2015

The artisan wine fair, RAW is launching a new fair in Berlin later this year, to cater for an increasingly international clientele.

The artisan wine fair, RAW is launching a new fair in Berlin this autumn, to cater for an increasingly international clientele.

RAW Berlin will take place on 29 November at the Markt Halle Neun, and will be the show's third location. It follows RAW London, which returns to the Truman Old Breweries on 17-18 May, and the biennial RAW Vienna, which is scheduled for June 2016.

The show promotes artisan wine producers who make fine wine using natural farming technques, including organic and biodynamic practices, and low-intervention vinification processes.

Founder and organiser Isabelle Legeron MW told Harpers the new event would spearhead the conversation around transparency. 

"I set up RAW to create a place that could be a great place of business for the growers, but the other angle was to create something to increase transparency," she said, adding that RAW was the only organisation to publish detailed information about exactly what goes into the wine, including fining techniques and levels of sulphites.

"The main job of RAW is to make consumers aware - it is about saying we need to empower the consumer and let them make an informed decision. I think as an industry, we owe that to the consumer," she added.

International clientele

The shows are increasingly appealing to an international clientele and around 40% of the visitors to RAW London are now coming from across the world, according to Legeron.

"The first year we had a hard core of international people but essentially it was UK, then Europe-centric, rather than people travelling from the US, Australia and New Zealand. Initially this hard cord of international visitors made up around 10%, but every year that has grown," she explained. 

As a result, RAW has become a place for natural wine growers to get access to international importers and markets, she said. "It is an interesting proposition for growers as initially they came to RAW to develop the UK market, but now they are connecting with UK customers, but also developing international importers in Northern Europe, Germany and the USA."

Isabelle Legeron MWIsabelle Legeron MWIsabelle Legeron MW

RAW London

This year's London show is set to see record numbers of growers - it is already at full-capacity with 186 growers confirmed and there is already a waiting list of growers keen to join. There are around 20-30 new exhibitors this year, with around half of the growers seeking representation.

"The offering we have is very strong - France and Italy are the main regions, but we have some very exciting growers from the US and Paso Robles, which is dry farmed without sulphides, which challenge the idea that irrigation is essential. Californian natural wine pioneer Tony Coturri who will be showing old vintages including 35-year old sulphite-free wines," Legeron said. 

"It is a criticism levied against natural wines that they cannot mature, and I think that is untrue and unsubstantiated, so it will be great to have the opportunity for people to see and taste them."

Other areas represented include Chile, Argentina, Slovakia, Serbia and Slovenia, which Legeron said was evidence of the natural wine movement spreading east within Europe.

Exhibitors number rise at RAW LondonExhibitors number rise at RAW London

Growth of the natural wine market in the UK

Legeron said there was increasing interest in natural wine in the UK, primarily in the London on-trade, as natural wine needs someone to tell the story. "The best place for that is a restaurant," she said. "There are so many wine bars and restaurants that have popped up in the last few months, especially in East London, and the number of place offering natural wine has dramatically increased. We are reaching a soft-spot in the UK for the natural wine market, as people are aware of it and curious and we're seeing that at RAW," she said.

She said that as a wine buyer, it had become increasingly difficult to secure allocations of certain wines and managing the wine list has become increasingly tricky. "If I was dealing with conventional wines, you can have a listing that you can run until the next vintage, but we have got to the situation where if you want to list a particular grower, you have to plan ahead for at least six months to ensure you can get enough supply of that wine for the wine list," she told Harpers. 

"Where I want to work with a certain wine, I will secure the entire allocation for the UK for a year, as that is the only way I can work with that wine - and that never used to happen. But it is becoming widespread for most importers and it is a new problem that has really only started in the last 12 months."

"There is more pressure and demand from restaurants and suppliers and that is fuelled by consumer demand," she said.