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Wine Paris paves way for return of international wine expos

Published:  16 February, 2022

After a challenging period that saw all other major wine events pushed back from early 2022, Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris has trumpeted a successful return to the fray.

Speaking to Harpers at the event, which runs from 14-16 February, CEO Rodolphe Lameyse described a “rollercoaster of emotions” over the past couple of months, as the events team and its board held their nerve through the massive Omicron wave that engulfed France.

“In January we decided we would keep the show in February, when cases [in France] were running at 60,000 a day,” said Lameyse.

“It went up to 500,000 cases a day, and a couple of clients questioned my intelligence and sanity.”

However, and with wines and spirits second only to aeronautics as an economic sector for France, ongoing analysis of Covid forecasts by the Pasteur Institute, along with discussion with government, persuaded organisers that the show should go ahead on its planned February dates.

One of the key factors in holding firm was down to the “sales cycle for wine”, allied to the northern hemisphere vintage, which makes late winter into spring the ideal time for producers and buyers to come together.

On the opening day the organisers were cautiously optimistic that the show would be a success, with the relief palpable.

Two years ago, at the last Wine Paris, there were around 2,600 exhibitors, and this figure rose in 2022 to close on 2,900, with just “a handful forfeiting” their place this year.

Visitor registrations, including the late surge, also looked promising, said Lameyse – an assertion that appeared to be borne out by the numbers on the floor at the expo centre.

One third of the registered attendees are foreign, said Lameyse, with Belgium, the UK and the US, respectively, heading up the overseas visitors, with a sprinkling of visitors also from Asia.

Lameyse added that there had been a late surge in attendees deciding to come, peaking just 10 days out from the fair, as people assessed the situation with Covid.

“Ten days ago we started to measure the first signals that things had really shifted,” he added.

As Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris enters its third and final day, it’s probably fair to say that its success – which will have been watched closely by competitors – has paved the way for a return to much greater normality in the global wine events calendar.