I’ve just returned from Verona, Italy where I participated in the Wine2Wine Wine Business Forum organized by Vinitaly’s Stevie Kim and team.
The key problem Vinitaly has, and in fact shares with many trade shows, is that while they have a great schedule of seminars, conferences and workshops at the annual event, attendees and exhibitors just don’t want to leave the show floor.
Stevie’s answer was to create an entirely new event, dedicated to the sharing of knowledge and ideas and bringing together some of the top thinkers in the industry.

In addition to the Italians, there were some great speakers from U.S. including Danny Brager from Nielsen,  Jancis Robinson of the Financial Times, Robert Joseph and Felicity Carter of Meininger’s, Levi Dalton of the I’ll Drink to That Podcast and Adam Teeter of VinePair.

I had a SRO crowd at a seminar with two parts which we knew from past experience are the two subjects that are of most interest to offshore producers. One was on helping attendees to understand the culture of the U.S. and how that impacts the wine business. And the second was a workshop on U.S. price structures answering the question the wineries commonly ask… “How come everyone is making more money on my wine than I am?”  When I put a slide with the formulas on the screen it looked like a rock concert…everybody pulled the cell phone out to take a picture of excel spreadsheet.
I also participated on a panel discussion on the changing media landscape and role of paid, earned, shared and owned media. Adam Teeter of VinePair gave a really articulate explanation of how millennials are no longer seeking out or responding to concept of authoritative wine publications and critics. Instead, they’re looking to their peer group for information and validation. Pierrick Bouquet talked about the La Nuit en Rosé event and gave some practical examples of how he’s using social media tools like Instagram and Facebook to turn an experimental idea into a social trend turbochrging the explosion of interest in rosé wine. Gino Colangelo added his thoughts on how “traditional” PR is adapting to a changing marketplace. And I got to tackle the issue of the role of paid advertising in reaching today’s wine consumers.
They also had a a speed dating session of wineries pitching to prospective importers. And that just reinforced to me how important it is to educate these wineries on what it’s really going to take to break into the U.S. market.
And that’s one of the reasons I’m involved in the USA Trade Tasting event scheduled for next Mar. 21-23, 2016 in NYC. Like the folks at Vinitaly, our goal is to rock the industry and reinvent the way wine and spirit trade shows are conducted in the U.S.