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Vinitaly 2016: Vinitaly celebrates 50 years and change is in the air

Published:  13 April, 2016

While Vinitaly celebrates 50 years since its first fair was hosted in Verona, both exhibitors and organisers have focused on making changes in order to keep people returning year over year.

While Vinitaly celebrates 50 years since its first fair was hosted in Verona, both exhibitors and organisers have focused on making changes in order to keep people returning year over year.

The fair opened its doors to the public, which has not always been ideal for all exhibitors. Some admit that too many people are coming to show without the intention to buy, explore or even learn about the wines, but merely to drink wine.

"I prefer visitors who know what they are drinking," said Franco Stangoni from Cantina Li Seddi, a small family winery from Sardinia.

While changes are being made to keep out those looking just to drink, according Giovanni Bertani, from Tenuta Santa Maria, the oldest winery of Verona, more needs to be done. He said: "The organisers of the fair are working on changing this recent trend, but it is still not enough." He suggested: "Vinitaly could be open to the public only for one day and restricted to people from the trade during the other days."

However, "it is better this year than last year and, as we are a small winery, we need to be present in order to communicate about our wines and tell their stories," said Eleonora Gottardi, marketing and sales manager of Contra Soarda winery. Even if the fair does not always lead directly to business contacts, many producers use the show as a way to display their brands to the public.

However, there are still some wineries and industries players that have decided to turn their backs on Vinitaly and do business outside of the fair.

Producers and importers are now organising their own tastings and events in Verona and its surrounding areas during the same days as the fair.

In 2009, The Wine Trio, an agent that sells more than 100 different Italian wines abroad, chose to stop exhibiting at the fair and now welcomes clients in a typical and charming Italian cottage in the middle of the beautiful landscape of Valpolicella.

The Wine Trio rented a house for Vinitaly in ValpolicellaThe Wine Trio rented a house for Vinitaly in Valpolicella

"We just want to make it easy, friendly and authentic. By a simple phone call, we invite our clients here. We even invite them to stay for a homemade dinner," explained Fabio Zanzucchi, one of the founders of the Wine Trio. "For us, this is more efficient because more private consumers visit Vinitaly, but we are looking for business-to-business opportunities."

Further Zanzucchi said he is able to better gauge the interest of those that are coming because they are willing to make an effort to learn more both their wines. He said: "We can be confident that people who drive to Valpolicella to visit us, have a great interest in our wines and a strong motivation to do business with us."

Although there is a common dissatisfaction among exhibitors, there is also a sense of change happening.

"This year is better than last year because the price of a day-ticket increased from €50 to €80 and less free tickets are given out," said Bertani.

He further mentioned that Vinitaly started extending the fair more and more into the city centre of Verona and "this helps to attract the public to the side events and away from the actual fair."

This is the exact intention of the organisers of Vinitaly, as Stevie Kim, managing director, pointed out. She said "We want Vinitaly in the city in a serious way", in order to make the fair more B2B focused.

In the end, Vinitaly does not only benefit the exhibitors and visitors of the fair but also many businesses of Verona. During the days of the fair the coherent theme of wine is visible throughout bars, restaurants and stores. All are welcoming Vinitaly's visitors and participating in the fair by decorating their shop window displays and offering special menus and events for the occasion.