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Gastronomy and Wine Portal

Robert Joseph: «We have this idea that wine tourism is the answer to everything»

Veronika Busel, Wine Marketing Manager, Wine Writer and Managing Partner at the Wine Travel Awards (WTA), has recently had a chance to interview Robert Joseph, WTA judge, consultant, co-owner le Grand Noir wines, public speaker, co-presenter of the Real Business of Wine and Thirst Fursday winecasts, Co-Strategist at 5forests.


Wine tourism overview

I did a book on wine tourism about 15 years ago and I have 3 Ferraris on the basis of the money I made writing that book… No. It is a lie (smiling). That book did not sell very well. Maybe my book was not very good, also no… but the truth is that there are not many books on wine tourism that became very successful. So I try to look at things in a very simple way. I pay attention to how many books are in the shops, and what are their subjects. That suggests me that if something is interesting for people they will buy a book about it. People still buy books obviously.

So when I was in New York, a long time ago, I remember being in a book store where there were more books on etiquette then on wine. Now many wine people will find it strange, but actually, to a lot of people in America knowing how to hold your fork and knife, how to talk to the queen or a judge or someone else is more important than knowing about cabernet sauvignon or whatever grape.

So to me everything is about content. For us in the wine industry, wine tourism is really important, for most people outside of it – it is not. If you actually look at it, most of the people do not do wine tourism in the way how they do golf tourism or garden tourism, sailing tourism, fishing, hunting, etc. You go there with one or a couple of your friends, and they make some plan like “firstly we will go to this or that garden, then golf, etc.”. That is what quite a number of people do.

Robert Joseph

Wine for most people is one of the things in which they are interested to a vary extent. To me, when we think about wine tourism, the way how we should look to it is as we are competing with a cathedral, with a museum, with a beach, etc. So I wake up in the morning, I am on holiday or travelling on business, I have half a day free, what should I do with that time? I will ask at the desk of the hotel what is happening around here. And if I am at Sydney, Australia, they may suggest me to visit the vineyards, also beach or mountains. But I will do the vineyards. And then, maybe, I will do it again if I enjoy the experience.

The picture I just draw – there is me as an adult, maybe not interested in wine. People come with their families. Will my 12-year-old child be interested to visit vineyards with me? Some wineries might be not very welcoming to the child. Or if travel with my partner. Does my partner want to go to the winery? Maybe my partner will choose to go shopping, I don’t know. We have this idea that wine tourism is the answer to everything.

I was in a conference in Australia and one of the other speakers organized wine tours to the Hunter Valley, which is a lovely region with very good wines. And he said that the average wine tourist wants to visit one and a half wineries. This is an average, obviously. So it is between one and two. He told that, very often, people want to visit wineries with him. If the second experience is very different to the first one, they want to see it too, if the second winery is like the first one and have very similar experiences, actually, they might not want to visit it. Most people visit one cathedral, and if they are not particularly interested in cathedrals the are fine to visit just one. Same thing about wine tourism. Wine tourism is tourism where the wine is part of the experience. We are in the entertainment business territory. We have to think of ways to entertain everybody, not only the person that is interested and has knowledge in wines. We need to think of the audience, will they go with their partners or children, who will drive the car after the tasting and so on. We need to make this experience as a very attractive way to go help them with their decision to check it, and even better if they want to visit it again. So there is not just wine there, there are other things.

Le Grand Noir

But also in terms of the wine, because wine is obviously very important for the experience, having the same wine at the winery as you have everywhere else it does not give a particularly special experience. You need to make your wine offer unique. To have these recommendations afterwards, to go to that particularly winery to taste some particular wines. Maybe special vintages, maybe special cuvee, make it interesting to people who are particularly interested in wines. Create this special experience for them. And not all wineries do that unfortunately. It is extremely important to make it possible to buy your wine at the estate. This, by the way, helps with the problem of competing with re-sellers.

Second thing. Are you capturing the names and the information about people who visit your winery? Not everyone does that. Do you then follow them up with good communications? Not everybody does that. And lastly, and very important, is to use wine tourism to do something that the wine industry doesn’t do enough, which is research. The wine industry historically does not do much research.

F.e., I make a wine, like my father did. I did a label, and it was designed by someone from family, I put my wine on the table during visits, people come taste it and they buy it if they like it, if they don’t like they will not buy. So what if I will use this opportunity to experiment. What if I make a special blend, with a couple of barrels. More oaky, less oaky, maybe to put some bubbles just to 1000 bottles, maybe I will try to play with different labels, and maybe I will put different prices, maybe these prices will be different for selected days. And then I look and research, is it more interesting? Maybe people enjoy some special label or cuvee that I just created to build this experience. And you know what, this will cost nothing. But if you go to a research agency they will charge you thousands of dollars to put 8 to 12 people in a room to research how they perceive your wines or experience. And then you will have to make big business decisions just based on one of such groups, when in your winery, potentially, you may see one hundred people a week, so at the end you will much more precisely know what people are more genuinely interested in visiting your winery.

New tools and advance communications in wine tourism

We are so fortunate today. God in the form of his representative on Earth, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, gave us Instagram. Instagram is a gift to any business, YouTube is another gift by the way. If you create and have an interesting experience to offer now you can easily show it to the public. Not only you can show your offer to people but you can encourage people to help your experience, to share and promote it within their friends or audience that might be interested in your experience. If the experience is interesting, none of this is impossible.

Wine tourism

So, if you have a boring winery with some barrels and some bottles, if you are trying to sell just 5000 to 10 000 bottles of wine per year, it may be enough to have just these stable customers of yours, but when you sell or wish to sell more, hundreds, thousands or a million, your communication needs a more sophisticated strategy, it must have good content.

F.e. I saw in China how good they are with their wine tourism. They like to put some interesting sculptures in their vineyards, something you need to explore, to photograph, so just use their experience and make something interesting, it could be your thing, but make it different, worth exploring. Give people something, amaze them.

Second, another thing that we have been given is virtual reality. Now people can experience a lot of what you are doing without being physically present at your estate. So again, it worth thinking of it, to implement this technology to create your experience. And by the way it is not always expensive, you can make it almost cheap, buy some camera for 300 dollars which will allow you to do this type of experience.

One thing that I am thinking right now for my wine/winery is to do 3D visits in the vineyards, and to be able to show these experiences at the shops where my wine is. You can find my wines in the shops in Moscow, so my idea is to give customers the opportunity to visit the vineyards while standing in the shop. Honestly, I know that not all people will be interested to check it. Most people go to the shop, buy wine quickly, while their cars are just outside or maybe their child is waiting or whatever. But some people will love it. And one person having this experience, buys my wine, takes it home, and will tell about the experience or what he knew over a friends’ dinner. The important here is to have something special to remember, like “You know, I saw these vineyards, and there was a fox!” (I will tell you about the wine fox later).

But here, even more importantly, that manager of the shop will check this 3D experience. And then he will have better arguments and more understanding to sell my wine.

Third. Learn from other people. Of course, you can pay consultants, people like me, but also you can learn without big investment. Just travel, read good books, look around and notice what other people are doing.

And now I will tell you about the wine fox. I was in Switzerland last year and one winery that I visited simply put a 360-degree camera exposing their vineyards. So for 24/7 you can see what happens in the vineyards. It is very boring! Ohhh, what?! There is a fox, wine fox! “Oh, I have just saw this fox in the vineyards again!” Vineyards are a bit boring, but the fox is cute, will she return tomorrow? Then you can continuously post on Instagram telling something like “Oh, just look who is back to our vineyards!” Could be a wonderful sunrise, or sunset, but you need to have something. Maybe you do special beautiful decorated lunches there, at the vineyards, make it interesting, make people want to come back.  And use these new tools of communication and some creativity. It is actually not hard, it is easy and this is something you can do. The problem is – maybe you do not have a fox. So simply find it or make up something else! (Smiling).

Robert Joseph

Spread of informational in a new era

I did a book last year. It was not a cookery book, but it has recipes in it. This was a championship in Bordeaux. We wanted to express that these 2 young families running a business there through their gastronomical preferences, what they do in different times of the year. We did this book, printed 8 000 paper copies that we sell in the shop, and then we made 10 000 e-books, it cost money to create a book of course, but every time anyone wants an e-book it cost nothing.

So we can do 100 000 of e-books, we can do it in Chinese, we can do it in German, Tai and so on! Next project I am working on is combining e-books with videos, so I can actually go and visit all these places mentioned in book through videos, then I am working on a next project, and it will be about 3D experiences in the e-book! And you know what, this is not science fiction, this is not millions of dollars. What is great is that all of this is available to wineries as a tool as well. What is fascinating to me, all these small wineries who do a small amount of wine with limited budget today, they can compete with the biggest wineries in the world doing this type of things.

Lastly what I want to add, we have a problem in wine tourism: wine tourism by itself is questionable. I travel a lot in my life, I visit different countries giving my presentation. Could I do it simply using Zoom? I believe it won’t be the same. Oh, maybe I can do it with my hologram? We have already seen this. It is already possible. At the moment, it is very expensive, at the moment it is not really practical, but I believe it is coming. I believe in 5 years or early it will be normal. You know what, we need to start thinking of that kind of things.

wine tourism

On bloggers, wine writers and journalists, Tripadvisor, Vivino and the WTA

There are sommeliers and there are bloggers. These are two different things. They are different animals. Lions and tigers look like similar creatures, but they are not. Even though they are doing similar types of things, if you like, they are not the same. So what is the difference between a blogger, a wine journalist and a sommelier? Bloggers are passionate about wine; they want to communicate this passion to whoever. Journalists may or not be so passionate about wines, they do pretty similar things and they are paid for it. They are sometimes slightly competing with each other and maybe they will argue on twitter. But they do not so much follow each other. For example, English wine writers probably won´t follow Danish wine writers. They can only pay attention to each other when some scandal in the industry is happening.

Sommeliers are different. They are swimming in different waters. Most sommeliers are thinking about the next job. And a beautiful thing about being a sommelier is that they are owning a wonderful and very portable skill. Today I am working in Copenhagen and I am applying for a job in Beijing. I will go to Beijing and then I will go somewhere else. And if I am lucky, I become a group sommelier.  How do I apply for this job? How will I build my career as a sommelier? I need to go to competitions. What do I do to enter this competition and make sure that I can win this competition? I read what other cool sommeliers are saying, where these sommeliers are going, what are they following, what are they saying online. So at the end it is about job application, personal career and opportunities. Every time a recognized sommelier puts something on their Instagram or blog it is like demonstrating their skills, it is a job application. Every time a sommelier puts something on Instagram they are sending a message to share with some other sommeliers working in different parts of the world: “Oh, this guy knows something about Albanian wine in his restaurant in Copenhagen!”, “Oh, this guy knows everything about natural wines. Maybe we should pay attention to him!”

There is already a community of sommeliers. If there are sommeliers, let’s say, in Eastern Europe who are not communicating with sommeliers outside of Eastern Europe, they are just not playing the game. We can encourage them, and the WTA model can be a very good way to encourage them.

And about bloggers? Yes, they might be important for the industry development. But don’t forget we have Tripadvisor, we have Vivino. There is no reason why Vivino will not shortly become involved in wine tourism. If there is money in it, they will be there.

Summing up, I think this word-of-mouth spread will come from different places, not only because of influencers, sommeliers, journalists, bloggers. But bloggers, and I am very positive about it, definitely have potential. But I do not think that we can fly to the moon in one day.

French wines

High hopes and what have happened in the wine tourism in the last 15 years

Wine tourism is becoming a big business today. Before, 15 years ago, when I was doing my book, the wine tourism, in particularly in west Europe, was rudimentary. Bordeaux had very little to offer, for example, no hotels, no restaurants, in the middle. Yes, of course 15 years it is a long time and anyone in wine production and who still does not think about wine tourism or maybe decided not to do it, for their reasons, have some doubt on was that a good choice. But in the same time, there are a lot of people who are doing it really badly, in Europe in particular.

America was the first who did wine tourism. Now in the rest of Europe everybody is following it, but actually America in this rivalry come too far, f.e. in Napa Valley now there are too many places with developed wine tourism, they are all competing with each other. The wineries are confused, what else they could do, because just having a good wine tourism offer in a wine road full of other places doing quality wine tourism it is like having another pizza restaurant when there are 15 more in a small area.

We need to learn from Americans, we have a long way to go, before every winery in, let’s say, Bordeaux will provide a with really good tourism experience. So yes, wine tourism has evolved, I have expected some places to develop faster, but they have not. But yes, looking to the big picture wine tourism has developed enormously.

And let’s be fair, my book… my brilliant book (smiling) has not been re-printed. There are also not many other books on wine tourism that became particularly popular. People rather go online; they will try to find something there.

Yesterday I did a meeting with people from Gambero Rosso, they are doing a guide to restaurants´ wine lists with Italian wines. It is a kind of a wine tourism thing as well. But there is no such thing as Gambero Rosso doing a wine tourism guide.

It is not as big as a sector, as maybe I thought, and a lot of people thought earlier. It is like a newspaper and the sports pages in newspaper. Some newspapers are having more sport pages, others less. But my newspaper still exists apart from the sport pages.

Languedoc Les Reserves red

On rising stars in wine tourism in last 15 years

I sometimes feel old, I mean not physically old, but more like an old wise man when I am thinking on how far we have come in a short time. I have been around for a long time. The world has changed dramatically.

It is not so much regions, as wineries. F.e. talking about East Europe: in Moldova Purcari offered a really good experience a long time ago, Castel Mimi is a wonderful place to visit, it is really beautiful – the hotels rooms, their restaurant offering. I think of individual places, happening around the world. In Bordeaux is really interesting the Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, they started their restaurant 25 years ago, it was a revolution what they did, and nobody followed! If it would be California everyone immediately would start to be curious: “What they are doing, how we can implement something similar if it works…”. But it did not happen in France!

We did not see an explosion; it is happening quite slowly. I think the wine tourism revolution outside of the New World did not necessarily happened, I think generally it has been individual businesses that do, individual producers, rather than entire destinations or regions.

South Africa has done a lot. Argentina, New Zealand, Chile, all of them have just followed what California did.

Local vs global

Talking about recommendations to Eastern European companies interested to grow their wine business. Act locally, think globally. I think if you are in Moldova you need to try to sell their wines to neighbors first.  Don’t forget your local map. Do that well, do that better. Spending a lot of money in New Yok maybe it is very appealing, but maybe there are more opportunities for you when you spend more money in your local communities. F.e., I am now selling more wines in Russia then in America, which is crazy, how did that happen?! Because these countries are also getting richer, they learn to more appreciate wines. So there is wine a market within themselves. And for wine tourism it is also very relevant, because many people are not tending to travel very far. Use that as your point of strength going to other places. Choose your other places strategically. Georgian wine is doing brilliant in Brooklyn and in New York, and it is not doing very well in Denver and Huston. Choose where you are going, analyze your results. And because of the God representative on Earth, Mark Zuckerberg, now we have the digital marketing tools, such as targeting, we can easily say: “I want to communicate to this type of people in this type of places!”

Wine Tourism

About “elite” wineries

It is simple. If we use elite in an expression, whether it is elite restaurants, elite wineries, there are places where you go and have a burger or salad, other times you go to what we call a white table clothes restaurant, you know that you have to dress a little bit better, and you are going to spend not 10 eur but 100 eur on a meal. Talking about wine places, basically it is about places where the quality of wines and image of the wine is on another level, maybe you will have more Champagne, all Champagne probably considers itself as elite, the wine list will be a bit more sophisticated. When we go to Burgundy or Barolo, we see more smart wineries, the owners may not be aiming to offer a luxury product, they just produce really outstanding wines, but actually they are producing a luxury product. If you pay more than 50 dollars or euros for a bottle of wine, it is already a luxury.

On a practical side, what is the core of wine tourism

Essentially what wine tourism should be about is direct selling. It is about making relationships with consumers. We, as wine producers, are more interested to sell directly. We are moving to times of subscriptions, when my favorite wineries will simply will send to my doors their wines every couple of months, it is already happening in America. This is a relationship and this is what wine tourism is good for and should be largely about it is about selling wines to people who found a reason to buy from you rather then to go to the store or buy from someone else. I think this is the thing that not everyone in the industry fully understood yet.

Le Grand Noir

On emotional side, what is the wine tourism for Robert Joseph

There is no logic to buy a bottle of wine for 50 or 100 eur. It takes a maximum of 90 minutes for two people to finish the bottle of wine. And your 100 euro or more is just gone. There is no logic. There is no logic to buying a ticket to watch my football team play with Chelsea. But would I pay 50 or 100 if my team is in a final? Of course! Will I go to the opera, will I go to the theater…? How long is a play? 90 minutes. It is an experience.

So to me the best experience of wine tourism is these minutes, like when you are going to a very bumpy road on a jeep, or horses or when I was in a Switzerland last week on the steepest vineyard you can imagine, and you are standing and looking down feeling amazed and fear in the same time. Of course you remember that! Being with a girlfriend at the top of the Hermitage, Rhone, in a picnic. It is something that is locked into me. But everything I have just said is relative, probably it would be different to someone else.

It is not about being in a winery where everything is organized, with some museum, where I am supposed to buy some wines and cheese and supposed to feel happy. No, it is about something else. Anything, where people have to put some certain type of method – it is not that. It is more about me doing something, seeing something, experiencing something, challenging myself with something. It is personal and it is unique, and this happens in this particular moment.

There is a very good story illustrating what I have just said. I completely love it and it is something that everyone could do it regardless of the budget and resources! It happened to me in South Africa. A very clever winemaker came with this idea: when you have a visit with your children, you call a child and ask him if would he like to make a plant. They take the children away while the parents are tasting their wines having their experience. And the children could choose what plant they would like, it could be tomato, cherry tree, whatever depending on the time of the year. Then they do it, children get back to the parents, and then you ask if the parents can share the email and we will send you some pictures showing how these plants are growing. Maybe we can make some posts.  Oh my God, I love this idea!

The emotional component of your child is doing something, which is involved in planting, in agriculture. Also you take children away to give their parents more space to enjoy the tasting. It is so smart. And it turns that the child remembering what he did in the winery and remembering it asking parents to return back and to check how is his plant doing. I love it. I love this thinking; you need to have a vision to do something like that.

Robert Joseph

Plans to re-publish the Wine Travel Guide to World*

I would like someone else do it (smiling). It took a lo-o-ot of work. It was when my second child was born. And that was my last book, I have not done books in 15 years, I did many other things. I am actually working on book at the moment, a very different kind of book. It will be on what is wine and the future of it.


* Wine Travel Guide to World by Robert Joseph (Author)

Footprint’s Wine Travel Guide to the World takes you around the globe to over 650 of the best vineyards, wineries, museums, restaurants and bar: from the grandest estates of Bordeaux to the high-altitude vineyards of Argentina; from Beijing wine bars to the tomb of a wine-loving pharaoh. Extensive color photography and mapping throughout adds to the enjoyment of the tour.  Renowned wine author and journalist, Robert Joseph, has compiled this remarkable list of the world’s great wine experiences as well as providing the history of each region, tasting tips, wine and food recommendations, soil and grape information and practical travel details.

Photo: Philippe Labeguerie

Veronika Busel, Wine Marketing Manager, Wine Writer and Managing Partner at the Wine Travel Awards (WTA), has recently had a chance to interview Robert Joseph, WTA judge, consultant, co-owner le Grand Noir wines, public speaker, co-presenter of the Real Business of Wine and Thirst Fursday winecasts, Co-Strategist at 5forests.

Marina Revkova: “I have my own ritual dances!”

The Ukrainian Marina Revkova is a sommelier of the Kyiv restaurant Vino e Cucina. This year, Ristorante/Enoteca represented the country at the prestigious international competition for the title of the Best Sommelier in Europe and Africa, organized by ASI. D+ editor asked the  Best  Ukrainian Sommelier  of 2020 to comment on the events which took place in Limassol: how difficult the fight turned out to be, and what conclusions Marina made.


As concerns qualifying stage, how, generally, was it? What did you remember?

The qualifying stage is the toughest stage, when you need to check people as much as possible, to understand who is who. In principle, everything is expected. As concerns the tasks: standard test implied theory – 100 questions for 90 minutes. Then, a blind tasting of one wine: this task consisted in describing it in writing for 5 minutes. It usually takes more time for a full description, for example, recently at Vootcamp ASI in Warsaw, we talked about the optimal timing of 15 minutes to complete such task properly and correctly, in compliance with the requirements of the ASI system. I would like to reiterate that 5 minutes for completing such task is not enough. It should be emphasized that all candidates had many questions: how exactly it had to be done and what exactly the jury wanted from us.

This was followed by a tasting of three drinks for one minute each. It was important to just guess the drink without a detailed description. Then, the practice of presenting wine. Usually, this task does not surprise anyone, it is included into all sommeliers’ competitions. But what surprised me this time was the task when six people come to you as a sommelier for dinner. They want a magnum of a certain wine, and it needs to be decanted. A colleague has prepared the replacement accessories for you; glasses, magnum, and everything you need to serve guests is already on the table. You have only two minutes to assess the situation and comment on how well prepared you are, and then, you should be ready to act. I understood the task, checked, whether these 6 glasses were clean. It is understood that when you work in a restaurant, you need not 6, but 12 glasses, because of “We do not like it! What about changing these? Give us something else”, which represents a classic, standard situation. But here, we were taking part in a competition, which is stressful, and you only have two minutes. At the same time, you are to comment on everything you see. Other participants said that it was important not only to find mistakes, but also to point out what was done well and correctly. Decanters turned out to be of irregular shape, just iron wine jugs. From the point of view of decantation, an iron jug is the wrong choice, because metal can negatively affect wine. And the jars were of different volumes: not enough to decant a full bottle of magnum. That meant that the bottle had to be divided into two decanters.

I emphasized that the magnum was standing upright. But, as a rule, decantation implies the possible presence of sediment, that is to say, decanting the wine standing upright is also incorrect. Another remark of mine, which I would like to share: wine should not be available on the table, it is correct to store it before serving in the refrigerator. This is because even red wine has a certain serving temperature, it should not be stored at a room temperature… And here, the time was up! And that’s all I managed to say!))

To cut a long story short, I do not know, how correct that was and how I should have acted. There were no explanations. Everything was designed deliberately to complicate the task, leave some room for interpretations and thus test your knowledge, to the greatest extent possible.

If we talk about general results and the participants, on whom the observers betted: well, there were participants among us, who were preparing for years – for five or seven years. For example, the participant from Poland was training for two years, but in the end, he did not pass. Just imagine: he was dancing ritual dances, while we all were waiting for our entering the qualifying round, when we would be called over by the numbers assigned to the participants. We posted parts of this performance on Instagram! It certainly was funny, but I should admit that each sommelier has his or her own unique approach to the competition.

Marina Revkova

Marina, tell us about your “ritual dances”.

Oh, yes, I do have some peculiar knacks, my own “ritual dances”, too. For example, I am on a special diet. This time, I refrained from eating dairy products, eggs, meat, for a month and a half: I practiced ordinary veganism. And two weeks before the event, on November 1, I started to consume exclusively raw fruits and vegetables – I ate nothing else.

Why did you do that? Is there a certain philosophy behind that?

It is simple: to cleanse the body, bring receptors to the most sensitive condition, so that all my senses could subtilize. For example, during the entire period of preparation for the competition, I continued to work in the restaurant, in the usual way, performing all my duties. And after a while I caught myself standing – I was choosing a wine – and behind me a waitress brought the ordered dish; then, without even turning around, only due to the flinging  aroma, I knew, what exactly dish was ordered, what its components were, including even herbs and spices. You notice all little details, because your perception maximizes. However, I don’t know, whether it works with other people. Everything is individual. I just happen to be interested in nutrition, I am constantly studying nutrition, vegetarianism, reading various studies on this topic, watching documentaries, because it is interesting to me.

You have elaborated such system for yourself or it just came into your life as a recommendation?

At first, I was experimenting. I remember my first Ukrainian competition when I was just started to take part [in the competitions]. This nutrition system complied with my personal values; as a matter of principle, I believe that it is necessary to take care of animals, I try not to eat animal food, and to keep myself within certain limits. And before the first competition, I went even further and switched to veganism. Except for meat, I did not eat dairy foods, eggs. There was no raw food in my life at the time… On the eve of the competition, I realized how much sensitivity of my receptors enhanced, how sensitive I became: I determined all details about the wine blindfolded: country, region, method, including even vintage. When I realized that the reason for that implied the diet I had developed, I began to use it as a tool before the ASI certification, before this competition, before the Ukrainian sommeliers’ competition, where I determined absolutely everything blindfold … During the semifinals, finals, I easily guessed the information about grapes, vintages, states, alcoholic content, aging times, and other parameters. In fact, this approach works for me. But I do not want my system to be perceived as a universal tool, you need to try everything by yourself, you should start experimenting, and figure out, what is right for you.

This does not mean that due to my diet, I can accomplish any task and determine everything blindfold. No, without proper training, it is unlikely to work. You need to taste a lot of wines. Certainly, it is easier for me, because I work in the best wine restaurant in Ukraine. I have more than 200 by-glass positions, and if I taste every day, it is clear that I can distinguish Riesling from Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, etc. I can often afford tasting good wines blindfolded. I understand that not everyone has this opportunity. But training is a must. Only a diet does not win. However, I am confident that on the day of the championship, you need to eat well, still adhering to a certain diet. It is important to prepare the body for D-day.

Given your most sensitive receptors and enhanced senses, what did you feel? How did you perceive the competition? What made you emotional about it?

My blind tasting was exactly what I had always been confident in. At the same time, it should be understood that, in fact, I have been working for only three years, I have not gained as much experience as many other people I competed with. Some of them have 10-15 years of experience behind them. Corinne from Portugal has been working with wine for 20 years. 20 years ago, I was a first-grader… I understand that I have no experience with different wines, I am an expert in Italian wines: I work for the Italian restaurant, and there are 1.5 thousand wines on the wine list. I can easily identify primitivo, allianico or negroamaro during blind tasting. Easily! But when it comes to Gruner or Chardonnay from California, I lack the tasting experience. Yes, I do tastings, but that’s not it! That is when you have worked, for instance, in three different places, with different themes and concepts for 10 years – then, everything will be perceived more comprehensively, more broadly.

Back to the emotions … During a blind tasting, I tasted the wine and assumed it was a gruner. I remember this wine and the emotions that it evoked so clearly! But I don’t know, whether I gave the correct answer. We do not know the results, they will all be announced, probably, later. Nobody ever says anything at the competition stage. Mysteries are abundant. I hope that later, we will be allowed to find out, what kind of wine that was.

You did not make it into the semi-final. How do you assess your performance?

I understood perfectly, with whom I would have to compete, what level of professionalism the candidates, who came to the competition, possessed. There were Master Sommeliers, people who have passed a million of the most difficult exams, completed prestigious international certifications, and participated in international competitions. For example, Roman Sosnovsky from Russia has been teaching wine science for 10 years. And I, having worked for three years in a restaurant, had to compete with such pros. Though, I even managed to demonstrate the result. It’s great, but I think that my experience is still insufficient. Undoubtedly, I can study and read a lot of books about appellations, varieties, regions, but this is not the same as my own practical experience. And this is not enough to win a competition of such level. “Kill and drill” is not enough, you need practice, you need to go through different situations with guests and much more.

Marina Revkova

What about your major interest: wine and services? Are you also interested in the wine-related business?

In addition to working in the restaurant, I work with Swiss company AVU wines, and the British system Liv-ex.

Accordingly, I know how much and what costs, I can trace interest in different products, the dynamics, I get analytics on a daily basis, I follow the wine business, generally speaking. I get the overhaul picture: what pricing is, what vintages are popular, what ratings are and so on. I’m interested in it because I work in a wine restaurant, and I need a broad vision. After all, I deal with the people who have money and who happen to know a lot about wine themselves. With those who have their own cellars and their own collections of fine wines, which they constantly replenish. Accordingly, when Lafite on our wine list costs 80,000 hryvnias per bottle, I have to explain to my clients, why this money is worth paying for it. That is why I study both analytics and pricing, and for these purposes, I am using Wine-searcher, Vivino, and Liv-ex. I think a sommelier should understand the order of prices and their components, find arguments for selling wines, know the product and be able to convey its value to a client. I also run our restaurant’s Telegram channel: write texts, and make posts. I am convinced that such posts should be written by a professional, not just an smm-specialist; thus, attracting new clients is a task set for marketing professionals, whereas promoting, and working with wines is definitely my task.

Marina, what can you say about judges and points awarded by them?

For the most part, we were judged by the world’s best sommeliers of different years. (Incidentally, I can’t help sharing my observation, which stunned me: after the competition, they helped clean the glasses together with the staff who were directly responsible for it. There was no arrogance on their part – continuous professionalism and teamwork. :)) I am not aware of the criteria, nor do I know, how it was all assessed – no one knows, except for the judges. I think my result in this competition is absolutely fair. I did not expect to make it into the final, because so far, I have gained little experience. It should be pointed out that experienced, well-known coaches were working with many of the contestants for five years. As for me, I had only two months to prepare for the competition, because I learned that I would take part in this competition only after I had won the competition “The Best Sommelier of Ukraine”.

Who was preparing you for the competition?

There is a person who helps me – the Frenchman Henri Chapon, who has been awarded the title of the best sommelier in Great Britain several times. We met in Reims. He saw me interpreting for my colleagues during a master class, decided that I had a potential, and offered cooperation. He helped me very seriously with the preparation. He commented on my technique, gave advices, and directions. He is my mentor. :))

May I wonder – are you on friendly or, rather, on working terms?

I hired him as a mentor. A paid mentor. In such a case, no one would spend his or her time for free. This is a normal practice. But at the same time, I was really lucky. People like Henri Chapon do not teach all and sundry. He is a busy man and works on various projects, including as a mentor. But he works only with the people who, as he believes, have the potential worthy of his efforts.


D+ Files

BBC journalists who were covering the competition arrived in Cyprus on a special mission. Here, they filmed an episode for a new docuseries about a sommelier, which they plan to sell to Netflix. Marina Revkova became one of four sommeliers who were the main characters of the story. Follow our news.

 

Marina Revkova, a sommelier of the Kyiv restaurant Vino e Cucina, represented Ukraine at the prestigious international competition for the title of the Best Sommelier in Europe and Africa, organized by ASI. D+ editor asked the Best Ukrainian Sommelier of 2020 to comment on the events which took place in Limassol.

Dr. Ricardo F. Nunez: a year or two?

On the eve of the new year of 2022, third year of the pandemic, Dr. Ricardo F. Nunez, founder and owner of the Vinos de La Luz group of companies, analyzes its impact on our lives and consciousness, and the special way of Ukraine in this historical context.


Some research recently published in scientific journals show that the pandemic, announced in 2020, affected everyone, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, distorting perceptions of time and events that took place during this period. In other words, we remember many situations we had, but we do not dare to say, “at what point in 2020/2021 they happened.” And the more events take place, the more difficult it is to associate them with a certain time of their holding.

We notice a tendency in our memory to merge the past two years. In one monolithic period and except for events that are important in everyone’s personal life, such as a change of job or family drama – great happiness or deep sorrow, as well as some situations, witnesses or protagonists of which we were – our memory gives the impression that everything else, less important to us personally, could have happened at any time during 2020-2021. The world of wine is also susceptible to this phenomenon because wine is associated with people’s daily lives.

Dr. Ricardo F. Nunez

To overcome this blurring of time, some scientists suggest using “duplication” as a system of analysis. Systems that record which annual (pre-pandemic) events have actually taken place twice in the last two years, and which have been held once or canceled altogether. This is not an easy exercise, because with its help we will try to overcome the lack of perception of “when”, which is almost a pathological consequence of the pandemic. For example, let’s ask ourselves, how many times has ProWein – the world’s largest annual wine show – been held during these years? All manufacturers, distributors, importers and many enthusiastic consumers will immediately give a quick answer: in these two years the exhibition has not been held once, and the next one is scheduled for March 2022, i.e., it will take place three years after the last one in 2019!! (As a comment, ProWein 2022’s security measures are difficult because increasing the distance between exhibitors reduces the amount of available space and increases the price per square meter, which is now 80% higher than in 2019).

And now let’s ask the question of what happened in Ukraine. How many competitions “Ukrainian Sommelier” and “Best Cavist of Ukraine”, organized by the School of Sommelier “Master Class”, were held in Ukraine during these two years (2020 and 2021), or how many exhibitions Wine & Spirits Ukraine were held in Kiev, or when the first events of Odessa Wine Week and Be Wine International Wine Show took place, or how many wine competitions were held for producers and organized by the smallest winemakers, or how many issues were published by Drinks+ magazine in those two years, or how many new influencers appeared and acquired authority and weight in the wine community (as an example I would like to give nataliiawines.com.ua)?

I repeat, if we address all these questions to ourselves, we will be very surprised by the answer and we will not need to turn to the election memory: all these events and many others were held regularly every year. Drinks+ was delivered to us on a monthly basis according to the traditional schedule, without breaks. At the same time, sites of influencers were opened, which are of great importance for the future of Ukraine. And if we talk about local and foreign producers of wine and distribution networks, we will also be surprised by the reality: on the one hand, Ukrainian winemakers over the past two years have made a giant step in development, on the other – new distribution companies were created and they managed to open their own stores for service and direct communication with their customers (as in the case of the Wine Gallery network).

Dr. Ricardo F. Nunez

It seems that Ukraine was protected from all these strict restrictions. From those lockdowns and bans that have pursued the world for the past two years. In fact, this is certainly not the case. Some restaurants and distribution companies had to close, but in general the system of production, import and distribution was not affected. And globally, the wine industry – from vineyards to distribution – is ready to look to the future and fight to achieve the goal they seek. You breathe this in Ukraine.

Personally, I am confident that Ukraine will find its way. It is now searching for it, 2020-2021 was a period of self-identification and growth. And it will create its story under any circumstances – with or without a pandemic. Ukraine is experiencing “tribal battles” of great birth. Every birth gives birth to a new essence as the protagonist, and in our country this newborn protagonist is the wine of the so-called “New Old World”, i.e., wine from Ukraine. Building the future means that more and more enthusiastic large and small producers (there are still no medium-sized producers) are pouring Ukrainian wine into Ukrainian glasses, which is the first step out of a comfort zone, crossing national borders, into the big world. But the emergence of this “essence” we are talking about is accompanied by the natural pains of birth and growth.

Undoubtedly, Ukrainian wine was born as “autonomous”. I tasted good and not very good – Cabernet, Syrah, Merlot and many other wines from Ukrainian producers. But I also tried many extraordinary single-varietal red wines from Odessa Black, single-varietal white wines from Telti Kuruk, which were incredibly good. I strengthen, they are very good! And they are now in the process of appearing in the highest quality. There are prominent people in Ukraine who are committed to the development of the wine industry with passion and business acumen. And every day they are more united in the search for the future. The land and climate of this country are a great support to the industry. The moment the world is going through is a great opportunity that manufacturers need to see clearly, and the word “unity” is a big key to the door to the world. Wines of indigenous varieties will open these doors in order their brothers, international varieties can also be exported and thus step by step establish the country as a producer of high-quality wines.

I hope that in 2022 Ukraine will take some steps. These are actions that Ukrainians can take on the international front line and which for me, as a fan of everything Ukrainian, are as follows: to adapt legal norms to the realities of the wine industry; to create as an official organization of Ukrainian winemaking WOFU – Wines of Ukraine, which will be the driving force to represent all the wines of the country in the international arena; to choose the varieties that will represent Ukraine and to choose on which day of the year the day of each variety of Ukraine will be celebrated all over the world; to unite all the main characters in a large association of Ukrainian wine producers and finally become a member of the OIV – International Organization of Vine and Wine, so that Ukraine takes its place alongside France, Spain, Italy, Australia and other major wine-producing countries where the investment will come from to work with local producers and conquer the world together.

The state must accompany this new history. Those who manage the country’s official finances must understand that in other countries, wine accounts for more than 3% of the gross domestic product, while opening the door to other products of the same origin.

Ukraine is the future, and Ukrainian wine is part of that future. My best wishes and best wines to you all!

On the eve of the new year of 2022, third year of the pandemic, Dr. Ricardo F. Nunez, founder and owner of the Vinos de La Luz group of companies, analyzes its impact on our lives and consciousness, and the special way of Ukraine in this historical context.

Felicity Carter: “Wine blogs changed the whole wine media landscape”

The Wine2Wine Business Forum is the Italian Industry Forum entirely dedicated to the Business of Wine. Drinks+ became an official informational partner of the event this year and today is publishing the interview with Felicity Carter, who on 18th of October gave her speech on historic perspectives on wine blogs.

Alongside with other 11 world-recognized experts of the field, Felicity Carter has recently joined a new international project – Wine Travel Awards, where Drinks+ Communication Media Group became a co-organizer.


Drinks+ Files

Felicity Carter is the Executive Editor at The Drop, the content arm of Pix. Previously she worked for Meininger Verlag, Europe’s biggest wine and spirits publisher, where she built Meininger’s Wine Business International into the world’s only global wine business magazine, with correspondents from 30 countries and subscribers in 38.

Before arriving in Europe, she wrote for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers in her native Australia and is now an occasional contributor to The Guardian USA. She is an international wine judge and speaker, and editorial consultant to Liv-ex, the London-based fine wine exchange.


wine2wine Carter

Ms. Carter, tell our readers about your presentation, why did you choose this topic, why do you think bloggers are important for wine and tourism industry development?

I am Felicity Carter, I am the Executive Editor of Pix, and I was asked by Stevie Kim (note: Stevie Kim has launched and now coordinates a series of new initiatives connected to the Vinitaly brand) to present on history of wine blogs, which she was interested in and I knew that this topic would be very interesting. But when I started to research, I discovered that wine blogs changed the whole wine media landscape. First of all, it happened because blogging was about personal experience, it was about how people felt about things and that wasn’t what wine media did at that point. Wine media was about reporting about big regions, big producers, famous producers. And wine bloggers were very interested in smaller produces, smaller stories. So, by the way, when they started to choose these stories, they opened up the whole wine landscape, the one that we have never seen before.

Do bloggers have value for wineries and wine tourism right now? What is your opinion, do bloggers help to promote not only wines themselves, but destinations?

First of all, blogging has changed. Now we would say wine communications rather than blogging. Now we would talk about people who are on Instagram and people who are on Facebook, for older demographics, and now there is a hybrid emerging when people move from Instagram to blogging, to Facebook, to mainstream media, so there is no single type of communicator anymore.

It´s very difficult to talk about wine tourism because the World has changed so much. So, everything I´ve said about wine tourism refers to two years ago, but certainly social media are extremely important, and not so much for big companies, but they are very important for the small ones. So, for people who manage smaller business, it is certainly a brilliant tool.

Felicity Carter

What do we know about wine tourism at the moment? Foremost, we know it became risky because there have been sudden outbreaks of Covid-19, and everybody became affected by that. It became difficult for overseas tourism. So, the thing is tourism, wine tourism particularly, became all about domestic tourists. And that is interesting because many wine regions of the world have never cared about local market, they cared about overseas market. So, what we see in a lot of places now is that people, who are responsible for the wine tourism and destination´ promotion, they started thinking about their own people for the first time. And that is quite interesting trend.

In the professional community, the transformation of wine tourism models to digital has been recently discussed, and social media are a big part of it. Do you see strategies for how wineries, wine tourism enterprises can make it smoother?

There are always so many things that they could do! There is a great social media involvement, but the thing in wine tourism is people want to come and they want to touch it, they want to meet people, they want to participate. So, in a way, you can make all of those experiences in a virtual format, but people should take as many advantages as possible. And now, we have been living digitally for 2 years and people want even more to come and experience things by themselves.

wine2wine

Felicity, you joined the Wine Travel Awards as a jury panel member, do you think the project is capable of helping to restore the wine tourism offer, as the project has a hybrid format helping businesses to turn their models online?

The biggest and the most exciting things about the pandemic weren’t Zoom sessions or online tastings themselves, it was all about these small bottles, samples, when people realized that they could sell them to each corner of the world, and it did not cost a crazy amount of money. Now we learned to do such online tastings, when 20-30 people are joining, drinking wines at the comfort of their homes and communicating with the winemakers using digital technologies. And I think this is a true innovation, of which people should really take advantage. That has been a big thing that have changed.

And we have seen some businesses like the 67 Pall Mall wine club in London as a good example of those who completely succeeded during the lockdown and brought a virtual wine tasting to the next level during the pandemic:  they launched face-to-face tastings and when everything was closed down, they started distributing their wines in these small bottles, in parallel trying to find tools to keep the wine fresh. They have been doing it so well, that they have built the entirely new business, business-model, new revenue stream. So, that is definitely a new type of thing people should think about.

Felicity, returning to the online marketing tools, how can we touch a person’s heart by storytelling, by online communications? Can it compete with the real-life communication bringing additional tools to the business?

I know that some companies really dominated online and did very well. Germany and Australia came to my mind, where wineries started telling the truth. They said: “Look, nobody buys our wines, we can´t export them anymore and we need your help. You know we have not got enough people to pick up our harvest, you know all of these disasters have happened…” They started a real talk as people were fed up with glancing shiny messages, they wanted to hear the truth, including information about what wineries experience and how they operate. I think the crucial thing we learnt from the pandemic is that people do not want a fake life. Even if the communication is going through the digital tools, they want a real life, people want to see the truth, they do not want to hear made-up stories.

Felicity Carter

I love this idea so much. Talking about online communications, do you agree that when we show our true selves, when we are honest, we could connect better to others?

Yes, completely! Honestly, some of the most disastrous wineries’ online communications I have experienced last year were when people decided to use the Hollywood standards and values. They started using scripts, they started trying to be perfect in everything, following someone’s else standard. It was a disaster, really horrible, they lost their authenticity. It was those online communications which already took away some part of human touch, and what is more – those people were not real, they were faking, what made it only worse.

And now a very exciting part, before off the record discussion about the Western and Eastern Europe wine world unification, do you think the wine community can be truly united, do online tools could really facilitate it? Are the Wine Travel Awards too ambitious to have an objective to unify the community?

If you look at the communications of the world of wine, we do have two separate types of worlds. It is something that I have recently written an article about. We have America, which is a very self-contained place, because people very often go to America to sell their wines as there is a good market there. In contrast, Americans have not been great travelers, and when Americans did travel, they tended to focus on France and the Old World. To be clear, there are really brilliant American wine writers and Wine Spectator has always been interested in the New World. And as I said, people always go to the USA to talk about wine. But the rest of the World has been always dominated by the London wine trade. So, London moved out and started to tell everyone about wine, they brought the Institute of Masters of Wine, they brought the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust, Liv-Ex to find wine exchange, Christie’s with their great wine auctions. London really told the world how to think about wine.

But the one group that stayed locked off was those, that previously have been part of the USSR, it was stayed behind by what we called the ´language paywall´ (note: a paywall is a method of restricting access to content), people really can’t get passed through the paywall of language to be part of this bigger wine communication community. And even though in East Europe, there are wonderful terroirs and offer, we have already discovered some great terroirs in Hungary, Bulgaria, but people do not know anything about the Odessa wine region, or don’t know much of Ukrainian wines. They do not know anything about the Crimea wine region, as well as the very historic wines that have been done there, or in the South of Russia, because it has been all locked up behind this wall. And I think for the first time, we started seeing these walls to come down. And this is due to a digital impact, we have begun to come together digitally, and the rest of the World started to discover all these treasures that we might find in the Eastern Europe.

Felicity Carter

And regarding individuals, if you are a blogger, an influencer from Ukraine, from Russia, maybe you did not have an opportunity to receive a wine education abroad, discover all these wine regions and expensive wines by yourself to form your own opinion, but are ambitious enough to be in a global wine business, could it happen? Will these big parts of the wine world be united one day, with free information flows running between them? A part of one context, one informational bubble?

Of course, yes, I believe in it! And one of the biggest tools that we have got and that is continuously developing is Google Translate, so, everyone could now push their communication in other languages, and I believe this is the only way to make this world united.

And you know I personally noticed some fantastic bloggers, influencers from East Europe, now they are developing their blogs, there YouTube channels. And what I find very interesting some of the people whom I found in ´Eastern block´ actually are very good in telling the truth. They are not full of B.S. as some people are in the West. It is a different tradition about the way you speak about wine, and we find it very fascinating. You know when I speak with Ukrainian, Russian sommeliers they are highly knowledgeable, they really know what they are talking about.

Mundus Vini

Felicity, and now a personal question: why did you decide to join the Wine Travel Awards, what is your motivation?

It is very simple. I have had some contacts during the wine competition Mundus Vini with some members of the team of Drinks+ and I was just always really impressed by the magazine, organization, its journalists. And I believe they do things with quality and have really great goals on uniting the community, create inclusive opportunities for wine tourism businesses and individuals, such as bloggers, and of course I want to be a part of this ambitious project, I believe in it!

I truly hope that projects like the Wine Travel Awards, whose main objective is stimulating wine tourism development, will receive support on all levels in the future.

And I also want to know more about this part of the world. As I know you do have these very famous brands, terroirs, winemakers, that the rest of us don’t know about and I believe that you are creating opportunities for people to discover this rich offer, to find out about that. I believe for 100% that people will come and explore if you give them this opportunity if you guide them on that journey.

Photo credits: Paulo Petronilho, Ralf Ziegler, MUNDUS VINI/Sascha Kreklau

The Wine2Wine Business Forum is the Italian Industry Forum entirely dedicated to the Business of Wine. Drinks+ became an official informational partner of the event this year and today is publishing the interview with Felicity Carter, who on 18th of October gave her speech on historic perspectives on wine blogs.

Cécile Bossan-Redon: “I don’t really have a typical day of work – it’s never boring!”

On the eve of the Beaujolais Nouveaux arrival, Drinks+ publishes an interview of its columnist with the head of Inter Beaujolais.


Drinks+ Files

Before Inter Beaujolais, Cécile Bossan-Redon’s career was not connected with the institutional side of the wine industry, she was engaged in export and sales and honestly admitted to Drinks+ that she would not change direction if it were not for Beaujolais, so dear to her heart. But the experience with international markets gave her the opportunity to see Beaujolais wines in perspective on the world stage, therefore the aim appeared to show them to the world, to tell that Beaujolais is not only a celebration of young wine, but 2000 producers, each of which has its own method of wine production. Meet Cécile Bossan-Redon – Managing Director of Inter Beaujolais.


Thank you, Mrs. Cécile, for having devoted your time to us. It is an honour for our Drinks+ Media Group which owns both a print magazine and online resources. We hope that the interview with you will attract a significant audience of our readers, including professionals from Ukraine, Russia, the USA, Germany, Kazakhstan, China, and many other countries.

Beaujolais

Is your present position a consistent pattern (taking into consideration that your parents were winemakers, and you were born and grew up in Beaujolais)? Or was this career turn unexpected even for you? 

It’s true that I did not expect to join the institutional side of the wine industry because my career was more export and sales oriented until I joined Inter Beaujolais. But I wouldn’t have done it for any other region, having grown up here makes it certainly special. I’m passionate about the wines and with interesting challenges to face, it’s an exciting mission.


“Working with emerging markets was very informative for me to adopt an educational approach to promote wines to countries where consumption is not historical.”


You worked for Picard Vins & Spiritueux and Boisset for many years. Could you tell us about this experience? How can your past professional knowledge be applied to your current job?

I have an international background: I worked for 2 years in Belgium for Picard Vins et Spiritueux before joining Boisset as an export manager for Latin America, Caribes, China, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. And of course, I got the OIV MSc, which is a very international programme as well. This has given me a great knowledge of the global wine market and helps me put in perspective Beaujolais on the world stage since we have the will to reinforce our presence on export markets. Working with emerging markets was very informative for me to adopt an educational approach to promote wines to countries where consumption is not historical. This educational aspect is very important for us to communicate about the diversity of Beaujolais wines when people are often only aware of Beaujolais Nouveaux.

Mrs. Cécile, your parents are winemakers. Could you tell us about them? What wines do they make? How do they feel about their daughter taking such a high position? Was it easy to let you out of the family business (parents usually insist that their children stay in their business)?

My parents are now retired but they did use to exploit 11 hectars of AOC Beaujolais and AOC Beaujolais Villages along with a camping ground and a guest house! There were always European tourists staying around. My parents are happy that I thrive, but they would be in any job. They also have never put pressure on my siblings or me to take over their business and none of us did. It doesn’t seem to bother them.

Beaujolais wines

Being the manager of not just one chateau, but of the entire regional association of all Beaujolais producers, is incredibly responsible. How does your working day begin and how does it end? What are the daily responsibilities?

It is a lot of responsibilities but we’re a team: at Inter Beaujolais, we’re a small, very polyvalent team of 14 persons and our main missions are the collective promotion of wines, technical research and experimentation, gathering and transmission of economic data, organizing and streamlining the practices and relationships in use. We have to take care of 2000 producers, so it does require a lot of energy! I don’t really have a typical day of work, I can participate to institutional meetings, receive journalists or influencers, take part in a masterclass, help or advise my team members on operational matters etc. It’s never boring!

Beaujolais wine


“We are lucky that Beaujolais wines are in the spirit of the times we live in: they tend to be fruity, refreshing wines without too much alcohol content, which is what consumers are more and more looking for.”


Tell us, please, about your association – how many winemakers and winegrowers are included, what is the main task today? What are the three main problems / difficulties for winemakers in the region?

Inter Beaujolais is the trade association representing all estates and houses producing or selling wines from the 12 Beaujolais AOPs, that is to say 2000 estates, 9 wine cooperatives and 200 “négociants”. Since our creation in 1959, our role has been to promote the wines in France and abroad, lead viticultural and oenological R&D, gather and transmit economic data and streamline professional practices.

We are lucky that Beaujolais wines are in the spirit of the times we live in: they tend to be fruity, refreshing wines without too much alcohol content, which is what consumers are more and more looking for. On the other hand, globalization of the wine market means increased competition.

In France, where we still sell most of our wines, consumption is slowly decreasing. People, especially the younger generation, drinks less although it is willing to spend more per bottle.

We must also change the perception of people who still see Beaujolais as a monolithic wine region, producing one type of wine. It is not the case at all, we also produce white and rosé wines and have 12 appellations for a reason. The extensive soils study that we led in recent years highlighted what we suspected all along: a mosaic of soils with great diversity. We, as well as winemakers, must communicate better about the quality of the wines.

Beaujolais Villages

The wines of your region, as we see it, are divided into three groups: Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages, Crus de Beaujolais. If possible, please comment on the situation for each group – characterize wines, production and sales volumes, and leading sales markets.

These are more like two groups with Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages being regional-scale appellations mostly in the southern part of the vineyard while Crus du Beaujolais are 10 different communal-scale appellations on the northern part of the vineyard.

Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages can be red, white or rosé. The reds and rosés can be released as “Nouveaux”. They tend to be easy-drinking and aromatic, very pleasing wines. AOC Beaujolais produced 26 million bottles in 2020; AOC Beaujolais Villages – 21.65 million bottles.

The Crus are 10 different appellations, from North to South: Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Côte de Brouilly and Brouilly, each of them has a distinctive personality from charming and delicate to powerful and structured, with always the refreshing fruit and elegance that gamay is so great at displaying.

All together, they represented a production of 36.2 million of bottles in 2020 with great disparity among them: Chénas only produced 1.3 million bottles whereas Brouilly and Morgon released 7.1 million bottles each. These two appellations represent 40% of the Crus production.

Beaujolais wine


“France remains our main market with 65% of the wines sold here. Our main export markets are the USA, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and Belgium.”


How many bottles does the Beaujolais region produce annually in general, and which countries are the top importers of Beaujolais?

In 2020, we produced 84 million bottles up from about 74 million bottles in 2019. France remains our main market with 65% of the wines sold here. Our main export markets are the USA, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada and Belgium.

What are the main difficulties or problems that winemakers of each group have to solve today? How has the coronavirus crisis been addressed in your region? How affected is the industry? Are there any special measures being taken to overcome the problems? Please share your experience.

Difficulties would be those named earlier at question 5. Work in the vineyard kept going, Nature doesn’t lock down! The main impact was on HoReCa sales as this channel was closed for a good number of months in 2020 and 2021. Direct sales were also affected as cellars could not open to the public and most tradeshows and exhibitions / fairs were cancelled.

However, compared to other French wine regions, our export sales decreased a little less (about -1.3% in volume compared to -4.9% for France in general), sales shifting mostly to the online sales channel. The main difficulty for producers will be to manage this new equilibrium between accompanying the recovery of historic channels and adapting to the new buying habits of consumers. This year in particular, one of the added difficulties is the capricious weather that is keeping winemakers quite busy.

Beaujolais harvest

Because of the coronavirus crisis and in order to avoid the overproduction of wine and the additional costs of winegrowers and winemakers the EU, for example, has proposed to create monetary compensation for the destruction of ovaries of grapes. Americans are also discussing options to leave the crop unharvested. Could you express your attitude to such steps? Do French winemakers need such solutions? Should we expect the overproduction of wine and in what price category the most?

As we said above, the weather this year will probably induce lower yields, we don’t foresee an overproduction in any of the Beaujolais categories for the 2021 vintage and we haven’t reached our full potential of production since 2018.

Let`s talk about Сru de Beaujolais. This category is given exclusively to red wines, which are aged after fermentation for at least six months in oak barrels. It means that it is a completely different wine from the young “Beaujolais” which is familiar to many. Could you name the most outstanding producers of Cru de Beaujolais? How stringent are the laws that regulate the production of this category? Have there been cases when one of the winemakers was ready to abandon the category or leave the association – in order to get free from production regulations – as it is often the case today in other countries and other regions?

There is no ageing in oak requirement in the appellations cahiers des charges. There are many talented winemakers, and I could not pick among them who’s more outstanding. Different wines also speak to different palates…

Beaujolais wine pairing

It is true, however, that a group of winemakers put Crus Beaujolais back on the map as quality wines region, in the footsteps of Jules Chauvet, at a time when Beaujolais Nouveau was getting most of the attention.

Production regulations for Crus Beaujolais are indeed stricter than for the regional appellations, especially for maximum yields and minimum maturity degrees authorized. These specifications are very important and are the basis of the quality system of the French AOCs.

We have relatively few producers leaving the AOC, Beaujolais has a well-known identity and that is always a great asset on the marketplace. There is little incentive for a producer to leave the AOC system which was created historically. Also, Beaujolais champions the sense of community, we like to think that producers share this sense of belonging.

Beaujolais Nouveaux

As far as we know, the neighbourhood with Burgundy is so close that some crus are allowed to produce wines having the status of AOC Bourgogne. How often does this happen and what is the attitude of your association to such a practice? Does it affect the brand image of Beaujolais? Is there any confusion in the relationship with the consumer because of this?

It does happen occasionally although the “repli” as we call it happens within a very strict legal framework. I’m not aware of any impact on our brand image and obviously, it is up to each wine producer to decide his/her own commercial strategy and what wines he/she wants to make.

Crus Beaujolais represent a surface of 5 635 hectares and 36,2 million bottles, compared to the 25 000 hectares and over 180 million bottles of AOC Bourgogne. Marketing-wise, this differentiation can be a great competitive advantage.

These days the style which is typical of Beaujolais – light and fruit wines that have passed carbonic maceration, is gaining popularity. And carbonic maceration technology is being used increasingly in California and Australia. Comment on this trend, please. Are you planning to use, one way or another, the status of the leader of this trend in your marketing strategy?

To be more precise, the traditional method is locally called “vinification beaujolaise” which is a semi-carbonic maceration technique, in other words, the vats are not sealed, and carbon dioxide is not added as it would be for full carbonic maceration. The CO2 is actually produced by the bunches at the bottom of the vats as they’re slowly crushed by the weight of the bunches on top of them.

vinification beaujolaise


“To be more precise, the traditional method is locally called “vinification beaujolaise” which is a semi-carbonic maceration technique, in other words, the vats are not sealed, and carbon dioxide is not added as it would be for full carbonic maceration.”


A common misconception about Beaujolais wines is that they are all produced on this same way, this is hardly the case! Alternative methods are increasingly being used, winemakers can choose to destem integrally or partially, to limit or extend maceration time, to use this or that extraction technique. Since winemakers all have their own methods, it would not make sense for us to claim carbonic maceration techniques as our very own turf. Also, this is such a natural phenomenon, with minimal intervention, that we can imagine it was the way the first wines were accidentally made.

That being said, we’re not surprised by the semi-carbonic maceration technique gaining momentum, it is indeed a great way to obtain fruit-driven wines with low tannins, a kind of wine that is currently very sought after by consumers.

Beaujolais Nouveau

And now about Beaujolais Nouveau. Modern French philosopher Roland Barth in his book “Mythologies” wrote that “wine for the French is a national treasure, just like 360 varieties of cheese and the country’s culture.” We can paraphrase it slightly and say that Beaujolais Nouveau is also the property of France. On the one hand, this is the wine that will not be in storage for long, and on the other, it is on everyone’s lips. It can be called a cult. How do the French themselves feel about Beaujolais Nouveau? What kind of a drink is it for them and what is a holiday that is associated with it? How has the dynamics of global demand been changing over the past three years? What will happen this year with the traditional holiday of young wine? Our editorial staff, by the way, seven years ago came to Beaujolais for a holiday and was the only group from Ukraine. Are there any statistics on the dynamics of attendance – the total number of tourists, the number of countries, the amount of wine drunk per night?

Overall, we observe that the sales of Beaujolais Nouveau and Beaujolais Villages Nouveau have been stabilizing after decreasing for a few years. It is still an important date in the calendar and might be even more important in the post-Covid era as it provides an occasion for people to get together, share a meal and party. The new generation of consumers is particularly loyal: we did a study in 2018 that showed us that more than half of the 25-45 years old drink Beaujolais Nouveaux every year.

Nouveaux are always released the 3rd Thursday of November and it is not related to a bank holiday, it very much has its own significance, even in countries other than France. Season markers have always been celebrated; Beaujolais Nouveaux have become one of them.

When it comes to demand, exports of Nouveaux have globally decreased in the past decade and are now stabilizing in some markets (USA, Russia, Italy, Belgium, Germany). Half of the Nouveaux volumes are exported, to over 100 countries. Japan is the largest importer of them all.

Beaujolais harvest

How constant is the climate in Beaujolais and how much does its change affect the industry – how exactly? It is known that the variety Gamay, which occupies 98% of the vineyards, is very sensitive to spring frosts and to temperature differences in general. How do you tackle these problems? How actively is the list of acceptable grape varieties expanded? What happens to the level of alcohol in the wines of your region due to climate change?

Beaujolais has a temperate climate with usually a good balance of sunshine, rainfall and a diurnal temperature range that’s perfect for the ripening of Gamay or Chardonnay. Gamay is indeed an early-ripening grape, so spring frosts are dreaded but our growers adapt their practices depending on each year’s weather, helped by our local Chambre d’Agriculture. Our vine and wine research center, Sicarex Beaujolais, is also working on solutions to attenuate the effect of climate change and is leading experimentations with plantings of other grape varietals but that is still at the experimentation stage. In any case we will have to adapt to increased temperature, earlier ripening, more frequent droughts, and systemic hydric stress as well as more frequent climatic incidents such as hailstorms.

But this is the case for most vineyards. Among many solutions to find, adapting vine training systems and selecting the right clones of Gamay and of rootstocks will be crucial.

What exhibitions and in which countries do Beaujolais’ winemakers regularly visit? What is your attitude to the changes in the policy of Vinexpo and its transfer to Paris? Due to the pandemic, Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris organized this year Vinexposium Connect, a digital platform with an extensive program for the wine industry. Did you take part in this? What other exhibitions in the world are you planning to take part in?

We didn’t take part in Vinexposium Connect but we will be at Wine Paris next year as well as ProWein.

Inter Beaujolais also organizes tastings in our main export countries (USA, UK, Japan, Canada, China, Sweden soon) and producers usually attend. As of now, we don’t expect to attend another tradeshow.Beaujonomie


“One of its fundamentals is upholding the spirit of sharing, particularly through “Beaujonomie”, a concept embedded in Beaujolais’ DNA, that translates into sharing Beaujolais wines, revisited classic dishes and conversations with friends, family, or new acquaintances.”


Today, wine distribution channels are changing and so are channels of promotion. What is your association planning to do in this regard (perhaps assistance to partner restaurants, online tastings, etc.)? How has the marketing strategy changed?

Our marketing strategy has adapted to the new circumstances rather than changed. One of its fundamentals is upholding the spirit of sharing, particularly through “Beaujonomie”, a concept embedded in Beaujolais’ DNA, that translates into sharing Beaujolais wines, revisited classic dishes and conversations with friends, family, or new acquaintances.

In France, we organize the Bienvenue en Beaujonomie festival during the first weekend of July, it is our way to support both restaurants and producers participating by promoting them to the general public. We also animate an international network of Bistrots Beaujolais and give them visibility on a dedicated website as well as promotional material on demand.

On export markets, besides partnerships with local restaurants and wine bars, there have been efforts to develop partnerships with online retailers and provide them with educational material as sales support.

Thank you for the wonderful interview and we hope that it will not be the last.

Photo: www.facebook.com/vinsdubeaujolais/?ref=page_internal

On the eve of the Beaujolais Nouveaux arrival, Drinks+ publishes an interview of its columnist with the head of Inter Beaujolais.

Sonal Holland: “I look forward to the day when India finds its rightful place at wine tables around the world”

The Drinks+ Editor had a talk with Sonal Holland, India’s 1st Master of Wine, experienced consultant at SoHo Wine Consultants and an expert in drinks, wines and spirits in India.


In her article for the Financial Times, renowned British wine critic Jancis Robinson said that the fact that Indian wine even exists is a miracle. However, despite serious challenges that range from an unfavorable climate to a ban on alcohol, the country’s wine industry is finally moving closer together.

India is a booming wine economy, both in terms of production and consumption. It has the potential to become a significant player in the global wine arena.

The total production of grapes is about 1.7 million tons per year, but most of it is used for the production of table grapes and raisins. Only about 10% of the grape harvest is destined for wine production. In addition, only a fraction of them come from high quality international varieties.

Considering its location, it’s hard to call India an easy place for large-scale viticulture. With latitudes ranging from 10 to 35 degrees north, the climate can be harsh, and tropical conditions mean the vines must withstand short growing seasons in addition to intense heat and unforgiving monsoon. Typical summer temperatures on the plains can reach over 47C and rainfall can be intermittent.

Fratelli Vineyards

Fratelli Vineyards

The south-western part of the country is the cradle of Indian winemaking. Most India’s wine regions are concentrated there, primarily in the state of Maharashtra but also in Karnataka. The slopes of the Sahayadri mountain range which forms the ‘Western Ghats’ have been identified as the most suitable place for viticulture, due to high altitudes and a correspondingly mild macroclimate.

Travelling to Maharashtra, we will definitely want to visit some of its most well-known wine-producing areas – Nashik, Sangli, Sholapur, Satara, Ahmednagar and Pune. And moving to the state of Karnataka, we will get to know that the best sites are situated on the foothills of the Nandi Hills on the outskirts of Bangalore.

Other notable grape-growing areas are found in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, and Jammu & Kashmir. A few areas in the north-east are also attracting attention due to their high location and cooler climates.

What do we know about Indian wine – what varieties are grown, what are the characteristics of Indian winemaking, who are the producers and to which countries it is supplied? Sonal Holland, India’s first and only Master of Wine, kindly agreed to answer these and many other questions.


“In fact, more people have been into space that have become Masters of Wine in the last 60 years. Even today, there are less than 450 MW’s across five continents…”


But first I got interested in the personal history of Sonal Holland, how she managed to get the title of India’s 1st Master of Wine and what has changed since then in this field.

Ms. Holland, could you tell us more where you studied and why you decided to enter the wine industry?

I decided at the age of 33 that I no longer wanted to work in a corporate environment as a Director of Sales at a NASDAQ-listed Fortune 500 company and instead, wanted to explore opportunities in a new industry achieving things that hadn’t been done before. The wine industry at that time, in 2007, was very nascent and wine was virtually unknown among the vast majority of Indians. There were a handful of producers making wine and limited imported wines available to a small community of affluent wine drinkers. I thought then that this could be an industry that would propel in years to come, and wine would become more mainstream like whisky and rum was in India. I decided then to professionally pursue a career in wines by embarking on formal wine studies with the aim of wanting to become India’s first Master of Wine.

Indian wines

Was it difficult for you to obtain the title of India’s 1st Master of Wine?

After a few early educational courses and concluding the WSET Diploma in 2010, I was the first Indian to be accepted on the Master of Wine program. I was so euphoric that I forgot the Master of Wine exams are among the toughest on the planet. In fact, more people have been into space that have become Masters of Wine in the last 60 years. Even today, there are less than 450 MW’s across five continents and here I was on wanting to become India’s first Master of Wine back at a time when even Italy didn’t have one and neither did China, the new superpower in the wine world. What were my chances I thought!

The next few years of preparing to become a MW were among the most challenging and arduous years of my life. At times, it even seemed impossible. As an Indian, I had very limited access to tasting opportunities or study groups and I felt alone at many times. It required a big investment of time, effort, money and commitment. I have lost count of the number of regions, wineries and trade fairs that I have visited around the world, and the number of wines I have tasted to prepare for this mammoth of an exam. I had to put the exam ahead of everything else in my life, sacrificing personal time, my daughter’s 4th birthday (which was heart-breaking), and my best friend’s wedding. Being on the MW program had completely consumed me. But I am glad that at the end, my dream of being India’s first Master of Wine was finally achieved in September of 2016.

Congratulations from the entire Drinks+ team! This is a great achievement. Moving on to the main subject of our conversation, from your professional point of view, what is the state of the Indian wine market now (what is good, what can be improved)? By whom is it represented (maybe by wine organizations, specific wineries or sommelier)?

The Indian wine market is still evolving, and consumption is growing at 14%-15% annually making wine the fastest growing beverage in India. Even up to 5 years ago, wine would not necessarily be served at weddings or house parties but now, it is always featured at large and small gatherings. Wine is now a mainstream drink and symbolised as success, celebration and romance across our media and movies.

Sula Vineyards

Sula Vineyards

India drinks 75% Indian wine and 25% imported wines although international wines are growing at a faster clip. The 3 main producers of wine, namely Sula Vineyards, Grover Vineyards and Fratelli Vineyards, enjoy nearly 70 – 80% of the consumption market share. I would love to see more brands and labels being introduced. But for this, consumption needs to grow at a faster rate. Wine is growing in popularity but due to high incidence of taxes, most of this growth is at the low-price end with importers seeking wines at Euros 3 – 5 price band. Only the most well-known brands at the premium end, sell healthy volumes. Brand familiarity is an important factor among consumers, so marketing is paramount.

The government has recently allowed digitisation of wine and alcohol by allowing retailers to operate an e-commerce business which makes the business environment very favourable for growth. Wine education through the digital medium is also on the upswing as both professionals and students are quenching their thirst for knowledge about wines by taking online courses (Sonal Holland Wine Academy saw a double digital growth in its uptake of online courses during the pandemic).

What grape varieties does India grow? What winemaking techniques are used?

India is home to a wide variety of wines made from different grape varieties: Chenin Blanc, Syrah, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot (France), Nero d’Avola, Grillo (Sicily) and Tempranillo (Spain). Despite the tropical climate, India actually has no problem with excessive alcohol levels and very high or very low acid levels.

Wineries are experimenting with various winemaking techniques like cold soak for red wines, skin contact for white wines, whole berry fermentation, gentler extraction methods for better tannin management, more elegant use of oak, and late harvest style.

India produces a diverse quality of wines in terms of styles. There are all kinds of white wines ranging from dry to sweet. We have red wines which are both unoaked and oaked. We have a range of sparkling wines that try to emulate everything from a more prosecco style wine to slightly more complex and deeper, richer wines. We have rose of all levels of sweetness and colors.

Sonal Holland


“It is heartening to see Indian wines winning awards at international wine competitions, getting listed at Michelin-star restaurants in London and New York; and boutique agencies like Wines in India believing in the future of Indian wines for the UK market.”


Considering the above, what are the perspectives of Indian wine on the international level?

I have been attending wine judging events and seminars internationally for the past decade. Earlier, people would be surprised to learn that India too produces wine. There was a total lack of awareness about its existence, but now, people seem more aware that India produces wine and would like to learn more about the styles, grape varieties, quality, wine making etc. I find myself being invited regularly at international forums to give a keynote address about Indian wines.

It is heartening to see Indian wines winning awards at international wine competitions, getting listed at Michelin-star restaurants in London and New York; and boutique agencies like Wines in India believing in the future of Indian wines for the UK market. At the core, wines offer a sense of discovery, learning and heightened appreciation and in this sense, every wine in the world has a rightful place as to where it belongs and who might enjoy it most. I look forward to the day when India finds its rightful place at wine tables around the world, and I am here to ensure it.


Drinks+ Files

Master of Wine Sonal Holland is India’s most accomplished beverage professional and a domain expert on the business of wines and spirits in India. An in-demand speaker, thought-leader, educator, event curator, judge, broadcaster, communicator and consultant to the Hospitality, Food & Beverage and the Alcoholic Beverages Industry. Founder of India Wine Awards and an Entrepreneur at Vine2Wine Retail business. Awarded for her pioneering initiatives in the field of wine and spirts; she has won several accolades and has been recognised among the Top 50 most Powerful Women in Indian Luxury and Top 100 Most Influential People in Indian luxury. Awarded ‘Wine Personality of the Year 2018’ by Food Bloggers Association of India.

The Drinks+ Editor had a talk with Sonal Holland, India’s 1st Master of Wine, experienced consultant at SoHo Wine Consultants and an expert in drinks, wines and spirits in India.

Stéphane Badet: «Tourism is an opportunity for wine and wine is an opportunity for tourism»

Stéphane Badet is an amazing, extremely important, and skillful specialist not only in the development of world winemaking, but also in our Ukrainian viticulture.

A French expert from Bordeaux has recently held a seminar “French experience in the wine sector: industry organization, commercialization and requirements for wine quality” for winemakers in the south of Ukraine, and Drinks+ took advantage of Stephen’s stay in Ukraine and talked to him about winemaking in general and winemaking in Ukraine in particular.

As a result of our communication, such an interesting and informative interview is released. Apart from that, Stéphane Badet is now a member of the jury of the new international Wine Travel Awards, co-organized by Drinks+ Media Group.


Drinks+ Files

Stéphane Badet is a specialist at Bordeaux Sciences Agro University (France) with a degree in Agroeconomics. The lecturer at EPL Bordeaux, Bordeaux Sciences Agro University and Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences. Specialized in wine industry management, business, marketing, and tourism for many years. Appointed by the French Ministry of Agriculture as a specialist in economic indicators and agroecology under the ministry. Stéphane has extensive experience as an expert and consultant in various cooperation programs in the field of winemaking around the world (Georgia, Ukraine, Serbia, Madagascar, Kosovo, Bolivia…) for Interco NA, French and German embassies, PNUD, FAO, etc. He is actively involved in the development of economic performance, marketing of wine tourism and agroecological transformation activities in the field of winemaking.


Stéphane Badet

Stéphane, please, tell us a little bit about yourself. How and how long ago did you step on the winemaking path? What is the focus of your main job?

I work for the French Ministry of Agriculture as a wine economist, professor of economics, management, marketing, tourism for the wine sector… and as an international expert for the state and regional authority of France, Région Nouvelle Aquitaine, specialized in economic performance and agroecological transition. I train and coach the next generations of wine managers and advise countries such as Bolivia, Madagascar, Serbia, Georgia… and Ukraine that want to develop their wine sector, with the support of France.

I am an agronomist engineer from Bordeaux, which is known as the world capital for the wine. So, when you are born in Bordeaux, you are in the wine since your birth! Wine in Bordeaux is everywhere, even downtown with monuments, wine bars, wine shops, wine tourists and the Cité du vin! There are more than 100 000 ha of vineyards around Bordeaux, more than 6 000 wineries and 60 000 people working in wine sector. Bordeaux breathes the wine. Many people in the world know the name of Bordeaux for its wine but they don’t usually know that it’s also a big and beautiful city! So, working in wine when you were born in Bordeaux, it’s a normal destiny!

Who invited you to Ukraine for the first time and with what mission?

It was in 2017, and it was the French embassy and the CCI France Ukraine. And it is the same for all the missions. I am an economist and an expert for the French Ministry of Agriculture, so I work as an official of the French state. I can also work for private companies, but my mission concerns public services and my priority target was and still is to analyse, to advise and to help to reborn, to restart, to develop the Ukrainian wine sector and all the wineries that want to take this way.

Stéphane Badet

You have been working with the wine region of Transcarpathia for several years in a row. What are some specific features of this region, to your mind?

Transcarpathia is a very different area from the other Ukrainian wine producing areas. At the same time, it is very similar of the European continental wine regions and countries, such as Hungary, Slovakia or Austria which are only few kilometres from Transcarpathia.

What potential does its wine have?

The natural conditions (soils and climate), the varieties are really the same, and the wine can be also the same and of high quality! The quality did not stop at the border!! It’s enough to taste wines from the château Chizay or from other wineries to notice it. The potential to make great wines of this area is very high, and the potential for tourism is also really very high!!

Stéphane Badet

What is missing in the region and what do you advise to pay attention to? 

Promotion, communication! Nobody knows Zakarpattia in the world, except Ukrainian and Hungarian people, which is not enough to develop a tourism sector of a region, such as Zakarpattia. So, we need to promote Zakarpattia to west-European people, and as a full destination with a lot of opportunities of amazing vacations: sport, hiking, nature, gastronomy, heritage, thermal baths… and of course wines. There is also lack of facilities: hotels, restaurants, road-signs, book-guides…

This area is very close to Lviv, a very touristic town (3-hour drive). Visitors who come in Lviv, can take a countryside break of 2 or 3 days in Zakarpattia. There is also lack of money to finance the necessary investments.

How would you comment on the high acidity of Transcarpathian wines, considering the fact there is a lot of sun in the region, and the summer is hot?

The climate is typically continental there and even with hot and short summers the terroir remains cool, particularly at night and the wines have a good acidity especially the whites. This acidity makes the wines very pleasant to drink. The global consumer demands this type of wine that is easy to drink, fresh and light. Climate change can alter everything – wines could lose this acidity and alcohol degree could increase.

Black Sea wine region

A month ago, you visited the Black Sea wine region for the first time. What are your impressions? 

It was not the first time on the Black Sea shores, I enjoyed, but it was the first time in the Mykolaiv area. I know well wines from the Black Sea (Odessa, Georgia, Russia, Moldova…) and I work with some of these countries.

What do you think, what are the prospects for the region? How did you assess the local wines – which, in principle, would be worth making in the Black Sea region?

I discovered this part of the Black Sea vineyard that I didn’t know before. There is a great potential in this part of Ukraine. There are already some very good wines such as Beykush or Slivino and many others. And some interesting and historical Black Sea varieties such as Odessa Black, Saperavi or Rkatsiteli… With a good technical management, these varieties and some international such as Syrah, Merlot or Cabernet can allow wineries to produce great and original wines to go abroad in the global market. Some wineries from the Black Sea region are already ranked. Wines are in Mediterranean style, especially reds.

This region can also produce modern sparkling and fortified wines for the global market, not of the “Soviet old fashion style”, but light, well balanced, easy to drink and dry. To go abroad, wines must be not too heavy and without a lot of sugar. A new young drinker doesn’t appreciate this type of wine anymore. This land can also produce great white and rosé wines.

The Black Sea region is still a touristic area, so wineries can develop business models with original wine tourism offer, to grab visitors they need new, local activities in the nature. With tourism, the consumer is coming to you, you don’t have to look for markets and buyers, they come to you to buy and spend money, you just should promote your destination, open your winery, and welcome people with a nice proposition during their vacations. It’s a cool way to sell wines!

Stéphane Badet Georgia


“Personally, I go to other countries such as New Zealand or Australia to analyse other technical and business models in order to come back to France with new ideas.”


And what should be paid attention to?

In the Black Sea region, we must pay attention to climate change. The climate is already warm and dry, and there is a risk to be warmer and dryer in the next years. And wines from this region could be too rich in alcohol, too heavy, not well balanced, with too few acidities, not really on the line with consumer expectations. Winegrowers and winemakers will have to be vigilant in the next years and adapt their technical managing to this risk (choice of the good grape varieties, watering…).

Stéphane, back in 2019 you planned to invite winemakers and employees of Chateau Chizay to practice in Bordeaux. Which wineries in Bordeaux do you work with? 

Thanks to my numerous students, I am lucky to be able to teach and work with many wineries in France. And as an international expert for the French Ministry of Agriculture, I work with many wineries, universities, local and national authorities all over the world. One of the specificities of agricultural education in France is that each school, whatever its level, has a winery to practice and learn in the real life and not only in the classroom. For example, in my high school, we have a total of 120 ha of vineyard around Bordeaux to produce and to train our students. I also advise some French and foreign (Ukrainian, for example) wineries especially on business, tourism, marketing, technical choices… So, everybody is welcome in Bordeaux or in another wine area. Sharing technical, business models, tourism choices is really very important to progress. Personally, I go to other countries such as New Zealand or Australia to analyse other technical and business models in order to come back to France with new ideas. We learn, we progress all our life in wine sector. Nobody can say: “I know everything about wine.” We hope to have some Ukrainian winegrowers, winemakers, and owners in the next weeks in Bordeaux to share experience and work together. Bordeaux is the world wine capital, and you can find a lot of very different technical and business models. Everyone can find what they are looking for to improve their professional skills.

Stéphane Badet


“As I always say, teaching wine in the classroom is good and necessary but teaching and training wine in the vineyard, winery or wine tasting room is better!”


What does practice mean? 

To be a good winegrower, winemaker, merchant… For all wine jobs, you need to train and practice. As I always say, teaching wine in the classroom is good and necessary but teaching and training wine in the vineyard, winery or wine tasting room is better! You need to practice in order to be a good wine professional. My students and I are harvesting, pruning, pumping, selling, sharing with consumers in our wineries.

Have you thought about sharing experience with other wineries in Ukraine as well?

When I am in Ukraine, or in Georgia, in Madagascar, it’s not to earn money, it’s to share experience and knowledge, practices… That’s why we are in Ukraine to help to reboot the Ukrainian wine sector. This is our mission with the French embassy.

Stéphane Badet Madagascar

What do you think Ukrainian wines lack in order Ukraine worthily bears the title of “Wine-making country” in the world?

To have the title of and be known in the world as a “Wine-making country”, Ukraine must produce high quality, trendy, original and ranked in the world-famous contests wines each year. Ukraine has also to promote the wine sector abroad, for example, due to its participation in all the international fairs (Vinexpo, Vinitech, Prowein, London…) and help to export wines abroad, to the EU, for instance. But it’s a long way and it must be a collective target. Probably for 10 years. At last Ukraine must be a state member of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV).

Stéphane Badet at Vinitech


“To have the title of and be known in the world as a “Wine-making country”, Ukraine must produce high quality, trendy, original and ranked in the world-famous contests wines each year.”


Stéphane, please, share the latest trends in wine marketing in France and the world with the Drinks+ readers. What is topical now?

The latest trends in wine marketing are numerous: for example, original wines, very original labels with a lot of colours, shifted messages, new conditioning such as wine in a box, in a can, in a tube… Everything looks to be possible to be different! New moments and forms of drinking wine: wine in trendy places, wine for the aperitif, cocktails with wine. New types of wines produced to satisfy new consumption tendencies, for example, wines with less alcohol or no alcohol, hand crafted wines, wines from forgotten grapes, wines with original aging places (under the sea, under the snow, in caves…). New ways to communicate about wine: wine and food (pairing), wine tourism, wineries in social networks… Old fashioned red wines aged in new oak barrels for months or years (except for the Bordeaux or Burgundy first growths) and classic labels are completely over!

Stéphane Badet


“Wines that please more a winemaker than a consumer [are unacceptable]. The best wine is the one that pleases a consumer who after the first glass wants to finish the bottle.”


What impresses you personally, and what is unacceptable for you?

All wines of all levels, all prices, and all origin in the world have my full respect if they look sincere! What is unacceptable for me is to see artificial wines manufactured in the industry or with flaws. I think also that prices in French restaurants are unacceptable, as well as frauds, counterfeits, misuse of protected brands. Wines that please more a winemaker than a consumer. The best wine is the one that pleases a consumer who after the first glass wants to finish the bottle. Wine must be a natural result of the fruit, the terroir and the winegrower’s work, with the origin guarantee. This is what the drinker should find in the glass.

Can you predict which wines, which styles and of which countries, in your opinion, will become the leaders in demand soon?

For the next 10 years, we know well the new consumption tendencies. In the next years, the new consumer will drink more “green” wines (organic, natural…), less alcoholic wines, light (0 sugar), fresh, easy to drink (for example, for afterwork), more and more sparkling and rosé wines. Reds, not too full bodied, but rather fruity, well rounded, and easy to drink wines. In restaurants, the big trend is that wine will get stronger by the glass. The consumer no longer wants heavy, too oaky, with a lot of alcohol and sugar wines.

Wine is an expensive beverage, so of course, in the next 10 years, the big markets will be the USA, the EU, and Asia (China, Japan). In the longer term, think to bet on India, other South-East countries, and some African countries. Probably, also Mexico, Brazil… All the big countries with large populations will be getting richer in the next 20 years.

Stéphane Badet with his son

What has changed in your workflow during the pandemic, what insights came to you during the lockdown?

During the lockdown, we had a lot of digital activities and courses with the students and foreign countries not to have to stop the international cooperation projects. For example, for the Chizay Academy, we made a webinar on the rosé market. I also worked in 2 wineries (Château Dillon and Giscours) with my son and some students to help them because part of staff could not work during the pandemic. I also wrote articles about the consequences for the wine market and consumption, about the current situation in post-Soviet countries and Zakarpattia. I was finally very busy, and it allowed me to do things I had no time to do in normal times!!!

Stéphane, one of the areas of your activity is food and wine tourism. What exactly do you do in this area? In what projects and in what status did you participate?

I teach and train the managers and the next managers. I advise wineries and help them to develop their wine tourism sector. I also create some original wine tourism events or propositions.

For example, at the beginning of July, I organised a show jumping in château Giscours, grand cru classé Margaux, to match wine with horse sport, with jazz concert, classic cars… (you can find pictures on my Facebook page). Or I worked with some of my master students (as a study case for them) for château Dillon (Haut Médoc), château Luchey-Halde (Pessac-Leognan) to find some original solutions to make stronger their touristic proposition.

château Giscours

Considering the situation in the world, tourism turned out to be one of the most affected industries by the pandemic. What recommendations do you have for the restoration and development of this direction in Ukraine and in the world?

Thanks to vaccination, the restart of tourism sector is currently being done in some countries, especially in the EU, and will require at least 2 years to return to the previous levels. There will be a “tourism revenge”! But you will have to be patient! In the next months, it will be necessary to target visitors from your country or neighbouring countries. Not from far abroad. We call that “nearcation” for nearby vacations. After the lockdown, people want to have outdoor, nature, sport vacations. In the wine sector, we have a lot of possibilities to answer this need, for example biking, hiking in the vineyard to discover landscapes, biodiversity… Or workshops. Cooking, pairing is another tendency we must target. Wine sector can be a winner of the tourism revenge this summer and the next year. We should grab this opportunity to develop some original trendy wine tourism propositions. Promotion and communication, storytelling and sharing experience will be also important to catch visitors.

Stéphane Badet


“Tourism is a new profit centre for wineries, a new job, a new business way to sell wines, to promote brands, and to earn money.”


By the way, Drinks+ Media Group, with the support of a number of reputable international organizations, has established a global initiative to contribute to the restoration of world wine tourism – the Wine Travel Awards. These are the awards of a new educational format. The Wine Travel Awards are focused on wine guides, ambassadors of wines and wine regions (both influencers and associations of winemakers, brewers, farmers), the Wine Routes facilities themselves – Wine Museums, wineries, restaurants, hotels and tasting rooms, distilleries, and other establishments that form tourist routes. We would be very grateful if you would comment on this project: we know that there have been many awards for a long time, including for wine tourism, or for wine bloggers, or for hotels that work quite successfully. But our main feature is to unite all wine tourism operators into a single community – from the facilities themselves, to guides and bloggers. Our goal is to give them in their hands not just prizes, but educational programs and a year-long advertisement campaign for each of them. It would be an honour for us to hear your opinion and comments.

Yes, there are many awards in many main wine countries for a long time, in France, USA… so, of course it’s a great idea! We always say to our students or to the wine owners: “Tourism is an opportunity for wine and wine is an opportunity for tourism”. Wine and tourism sectors must go together in the same way with the same goal. Develop a collective tourism game! As I said before, to develop tourism and wine tourism, you should promote destinations and to communicate with some targeted markets. So, this initiative looks to be THE GOOD IDEA for the Ukrainian wine and tourism sectors! Tourism is a new profit centre for wineries, a new job, a new business way to sell wines, to promote brands, and to earn money. So, let’s do it! My only comment concerns the targeted markets. We must make Ukraine known as a destination for the EU visitors. Many people from Italy, Germany, UK, Scandinavia, Israel… can be interested in vacations in Ukraine. Putting forward its heritage, the Black Sea, Nature, gastronomy, wines… (and even why not a Chernobyl visit) means to promote. These markets are very close, the visitors from them can be the first to come and to help (re)start the tourism sector. And to conclude, if you are looking for the jury members for the next awards, I can be one of them!

Stéphane Badet is an amazing, extremely important, and skillful specialist not only in the development of world winemaking, but also in our Ukrainian viticulture. Apart from that, Stéphane Badet is now a member of the jury of the new international Wine Travel Awards, co-organized by Drinks+ Media Group.

Giovanni Mantovani: Vinitaly 2022 for targeted and face-to-face business meetings

In his interview for Drinks+ magazine, Mr. Giovanni Mantovani, CEO of Veronafiere and Vinitaly, shared updapes on Vinitaly Opera Wine, Vinitaly Special Edition Preview and Vinitaly Special Edition, as well as the new “Vinitaly Plus” online platform.


OperaWine and Vinitaly Preview in Verona organised by Vinitaly-Veronafiere hallmarked the resumption of shows attended in-person after fifteen months of compulsory stops when only digital events could take place. What are the specificities of resuming offline activities? Did you face any difficulties with the organization or getting back in the game?

Vinitaly OperaWine and Vinitaly Special Edition Preview were the first events attended in person for the world of wine and among the first overall after more than a year of forced closures. Italy had reopened its borders only one month beforehand to allow arrivals by foreign citizens vaccinated or with a negative swab. The two events in June marked the return of producers and buyers in complete safety. Success went beyond all expectations, and it was a chance to assess the current state of markets, intercept signals and trends and reconnect personal and business relationships. Veronafiere has organized events for more than 122 years in various sectors ranging from agriculture to food and construction. It consequently has the know-how needed for organizing events and recently our strong point was the ability to adapt layout and services to meet the constantly evolving context.

In the course of these months of pandemic, we have worked alongside producers – who were no longer in direct contact with buyers – and received confirmation that business also needs socializing and that trade fairs, while embracing digital innovation, are based on personal relationships and contacts. 

Veronafiere

The Grand Tasting usually precedes Vinitaly’s inauguration day and presents some of the finest Italian wines. Who selected the wines to taste this year? And what was the criteria and procedure of the selection process?

The main objective of Vinitaly Opera Wine is to promote the high quality and variety of Italian wine. For ten years, the editors of Wine Spectator have been exclusively responsible for selecting producers and wines. Every year, wine cellars from all over Italy are invited on the basis of several criteria, ranging from historically significant producers to the protagonists of Wine Spectator’s blind tastings and realities representing specific grape or terroir. The only constraint requested by Vinitaly-Veronafiere is that every region in Italy should be represented.

After 15 months at a standstill, and on the tenth anniversary of the event, it was decided to invite not only the wine cellars of the 2020 edition postponed because of the pandemic but also the participants of all previous editions of OperaWine.

Opera Wine 2021

Mr. Mantovani, what is the audience of Vinitaly? Does it vary from event to event? Who was presented at “Vinitaly Special Edition Preview” in June?

Vinitaly is the largest international exhibition specifically for the world of wine and spirits. First held in 1967, it is scheduled every year in the Veronafiere Exhibition Centre – attracting almost 5000 exhibitors, about 15000 wine labels and tens of thousands of buyers from all over the world. Over time, the event has developed from being trade fair into a network system that brings together forty international initiatives in Italy and abroad under its brand: guides, competitions and events specifically for the entire wine community, from producers to professionals, the press and wine lovers. Vinitaly Special Edition Preview was attended by companies keen to seize immediately the chance to resume business through an in-person event with Italian and international buyers and interface with the trade press.

vinitaly


“Vinitaly Special Edition aims to achieve a further step towards Vinitaly 2022 for targeted and face-to-face business meetings.”


Vinitaly Special Edition, the first full-scale trade fair event dedicated to the wine sector, is scheduled 17-19 October. Tell us more about this event – what audience does the event target, what is its peculiarity? Since the current situation is not stable again, do you consider the offline format along with face-to-face meetings or as a plan B?

Vinitaly Special Edition is an exclusively professional initiative complete with courses and events focusing on catering, hospitality, entertainment, wine stores and large-scale retail. In responding to requests from the sector, it will only take place this year. It is an edition of Vinitaly created to strengthen contacts between supply and demand in the world of wine in the run-up to 54th edition scheduled 10-13 April 2022.

The keyword for the Special Edition in October and the 54th Vinitaly itself is and will be business, thanks not the least to intense promotion and incoming of international buyers from the main target countries in collaboration with the ICE Italian Trade Agency. 

Vinitaly Plus


“The keyword for the Special Edition in October and the 54th Vinitaly itself is and will be business…”


It is stated that the new “Vinitaly Plus” online platform will also be available to subscribers. What features and innovative solutions does this platform propose? 

Vinitaly Plus is the multilingual virtual venue designed and developed by Vinitaly to keep up-to-date and do business 365 days a year where producers and operators in the sector can meet virtually and exploit the advantages of the digital world. Vinitaly Plus allows users to consult more than 15,000 technical data sheets for wines and spirits in ten languages, search for wines and companies by geographical area, production, sales channels, price and exports, as well as many other functions. For example, registered users – in addition to accessing search functions – can also take advantage of chat messaging to establish direct contacts. During the trade fair as such, Vinitaly Plus will help boost the event experience. The platform app is essential for scanning entrance tickets as well as extremely useful for exchanging information in contactless mode: from virtual business cards to viewing fact files of the wines on show and capturing the QR code of the bottle with a smartphone. Lastly, geo-location functions also mean that the Vinitaly Plus app helps you find your way around the stands.

Since Vinitaly Special Edition is an exclusively professional occasion, what aim is pursued due to gathering of professionals in catering, hospitality, entertainment, wine bar and retail distribution sectors?

Vinitaly Special Edition aims to achieve a further step towards Vinitaly 2022 for targeted and face-to-face business meetings. The high profiling accelerates the opportunity to generate valid contacts for companies that after two years of stop&go have had little chance to plan meetings and expand their customer portfolio.

Vinitaly Special Edition

Mr. Mantovani, tell us a little bit more about the partners of Vinitaly Special Edition which will take place at Veronafiere. How do you plan to enable incoming arrivals by selected international buyers, especially from Europe, the United Kingdom, the USA and Canada? What activities and areas are planned at the venue?

Veronafiere, ICE Italian Trade Agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation have worked to allow arrivals by international delegations in compliance with all safety regulations and travel restrictions imposed by governments because of the pandemic. In particular, the “Taste&Buy” programme of across the table b2b meetings is dedicated to incoming buyers with a series of guided tastings to discover the best of the trade fair has to offer.

Vinitaly

As far as we understand, within the framework of this event, the main focus is on Italian wines. How many wineries are participating in this event? Will there be an emphasis on individual regions?

As of early September, more than 300 companies and important promotion consortia have registered, with a forecast for reaching about 400. At the same time, the wine2wine business forum, an in-depth event for professionals in the world of wine and the Special Editions of Sol&Agrifood (quality agro-food exhibition) and Enolitech (technologies applied to the wine supply chain) are also scheduled. Vinitaly Special Edition is a “streamlined” event featuring a straightforward layout with pre-fitted stands.

We have also thought about certain new features, including – for example – the area dedicated to mixology to propose mixes and cocktails using products presented by companies, the section dedicated to organic wines and a structured calendar of conferences and tastings in specific areas set up in the show halls.

Vinitaly

The Vinitaly Special Edition is likely to gather many people at one place. How are you going to maintain safety and proper sanitary conditions?

To ensure maximum safety for all exhibitors and visitors, we have adopted a specific safe business protocol developed in compliance with all Covid prevention provisions. We have installed temperature scanners at the entrance gates, 400 cameras capable of signalling any crowds, continuous sanitation of facilities and air conditioning systems. Veronafiere has also successfully completed the 20-point GBAC STAR TM accreditation programme – currently the most advanced standard in cleaning, disinfection and prevention of infectious diseases.

Entrance to the event obviously is only allowed on presentation of a Green Pass and we have also made rapid swab points available to all users.

Photo: Ennevi

In his interview for Drinks+ magazine, Mr. Giovanni Mantovani, CEO of Veronafiere and Vinitaly, shared updapes on Vinitaly Opera Wine, Vinitaly Special Edition Preview and Vinitaly Special Edition, as well as the new “Vinitaly Plus” online platform. OperaWine and Vinitaly Preview in Verona organised by Vinitaly-Veronafiere hallmarked the resumption of shows attended in-person after fifteen months of […]

Radoslaw Fron: “Polish wine has confirmed that this is not a temporary fashion, but a real revival of wine culture!”

Radosław Froń, a Polish lawyer, judge of international wine competitions and author of the blog paragrafwkieliszku.pl, deeply studied the issue of winemaking in Poland and shared his expert opinion with D+.


How difficult is it for a small winemaker to obtain a license for the production and sale of wine? How long does it take for registration? And how much does it cost?

Vineyard registration in Poland is not a big problem. Winemakers who produce up to 1000 hectoliters of wine from grapes from their own vineyard are given a number of privileges. The requirements are relatively low, and the formal costs are low. The main problem is outdated anti-alcohol laws. They came from the distant 80s of the last century. The spirit of the law of the time is in no way consistent with today’s economic, social and technological situation. The problem lies, among other things, in the prohibition of advertising and promotion of alcoholic beverages, the difficulty of delivering alcoholic beverages to the buyer, which hinders the development of online commerce.

And what about the cultivation of grapes – do you need a license, is there an opportunity to buy land for private ownership, are there any restrictions (by area, varieties, or some other kind)?

Poland is free to create new vineyards and we currently have 329 commercial vineyards registered in 2020. There is also no closed list of grape varieties that can be planted for wine production. We apply the general EU rules, which is why we plant varieties grown in other countries of the Community or included in the international list of grape varieties maintained by the OIV. The purchase of more than 1 hectare of land in Poland is mainly limited to trade between farmers. Otherwise, the consent of the state authorities is required. Unfortunately, this is a major barrier to entry for new farmers interested in viticulture.

Is there a nationwide association of small winemakers, or are there only territorial ones, by voivodeship? What issues do such organizations solve?

As a matter of principle, we do not single out small winemakers in Poland at all due to the fundamental shortage of large winemakers. The largest Polish vineyards cover just over 30 hectares. The joint activities of winemakers are predominantly local in nature and are concentrated in associations operating in the wine regions. Their main tasks include training, technical assessment of young wines, promoting local winemaking and organizing local events. Coordination and lobbying functions are mainly assumed by the Polish Institute of Vine and Wine, an organization that participates in public consultations on changes in legislation and acts as a co-organizer of the annual Congress of Polish Winemakers. The Foundation for the Development and Promotion of Winemaking GALICJA VITIS deserves special attention. This foundation was founded by Roman Myslivets, a senior specialist in Polish winemaking, who currently runs the largest Polish school for training winemakers (Subcarpathian Wine Academy), organizes one of the largest wine competitions in Central Europe (International Wine Competition GALICJA VITIS®).

Radoslaw Fron

Do Polish winemakers strive to unite in order to jointly lobby for legislation, advance on the world market, or is it every man for himself?

Polish winemakers are trying to unite around common goals, although they still focus mainly on the Polish market. The relatively small volume of production (14,361 hl in 2020) is far from providing even the domestic market. Of course, some winemakers actively sell wine on foreign markets, but this is by no means a priority or even a significant need. Shortly before the pandemic, a presentation of Polish wines took place at the Polish Hearth Club in London. «Let’s Taste Poland» met with a very warm welcome and keen interest. Unfortunately, Brexit and recent restrictions have somewhat cooled the dynamics of established contacts.

What are the benefits of micro-winemaking?

Winemaking in Poland grew out of the hobby of amateur winemakers who, over time, acquired the necessary skills to start commercial production. In addition, now many farmers and representatives of agritourism seek to invest in the enotourism that is fashionable today, thereby standing out in the market. As a result, Polish winemaking takes the form of a small family business or additional economic activity. However, there are also projects of a purely business nature. This structure of Polish winemaking brings obvious benefits to consumers. The offer of Polish wines is extensive and rich in many different wine styles. Small farms produce wine with respect for nature and with minimal use of technology, which is highly valued in Poland.

Detailed Guide to Vineyard Registration and Wine Production Procedures

Are small winemakers afraid of being absorbed by large industries?

There is practically no risk that small vineyards will be taken over by large companies in Poland. For years, the European Union has produced large surpluses of wine. Thus, few large producers have a chance to achieve significant profit margins – especially considering the costs and risks associated with doing such an activity in Poland. The profitability of the industry in the EU is also largely based on subsidies associated with the cutting of vineyards. Obviously, small craft projects are profitable, but their scale is not very attractive for potential acquisitions. Large producers in our country base their activities mainly on the production of wine products such as fruit wines or ciders, as well as on the bottling of wines imported into Poland from other countries. They create their own vineyards, but their main goal is more of an image one.

Has the “Wine of Poland” brand been formed in Poland, what is the attitude of winemakers towards it?

There is no separate Wino Polskie brand, but in fact Polish wines enjoy a good reputation among domestic consumers. Many of them make a purchase decision based on the origin of the wine from Polish vineyards. Our wines are appreciated for their natural approach to production and low production volumes.

Book about Polish wine

Is there an opportunity for Polish winemakers to export their products, are there organizations involved in programs to promote Polish wine?

Polish wines are attractive abroad due to their individual origin. But as I have already said, the volume of production currently does not allow expanding the export offer. Moreover, Polish winemakers do not feel the need for this since we have a very active domestic market.

Polish wine has confirmed that this is not a temporary fashion, but a real revival of wine culture.

P. S. Radosław Froń has prepared a “Detailed Guide to Vineyard Registration and Wine Production Procedures” which supports those wishing to implement a wine-making project. Radosław Froń offers novice winemakers the preparation of all the necessary documents and assistance in registering the official production of wine from one’s own vineyard.

Radosław Froń, a Polish lawyer, judge of international wine competitions and author of the blog paragrafwkieliszku.pl, deeply studied the issue of winemaking in Poland and shared his expert opinion with D+.

Rodolphe Lameyse: “I am expecting that we are going to take back a normal life in 2022”

In his interview, Rodolphe Lameyse, CEO at Vinexpo, shares with Drinks+ readers the company vision, future project concepts for forums Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris, Vinexpo Bordeaux, the WOW! Platform, Vinexpo Shanghai and Vinexpo India.


Long time before the pandemic, you were preparing a global reorganization: first, the merger of the two exhibition organizations Vinovision and Vinisud took place in Wine Paris, which was further developed in 2020 thanks to the alliance with Vinexpo. As a result of the merger of three companies on the world market, a new expo operator emerged – Vinexposium. Please comment on what the main goals were pursued during these mergers and how the audience was distributed between the planned exhibitions?

Vinexposium is the new leading global organiser of wine and spirits events which aims to play a pivotal role between wine regions and international markets. The new company capitalises on Comexposium‘s expertise and global reach, as the world’s third largest event organiser, and internationally renowned brand Vinexpo which specialises in organising wine and spirits trade events on the three main wine consuming continents. It will draw on France’s excellence and expertise as the world’s second largest wine producer and consumer and leading exporter by value to boost the industry’s trade relations worldwide.

We will do everything in our power to ensure that Vinexposium is a preferred partner for industry stakeholders across-the-board in the coming years. The current crisis situation underscores the relevance of this alliance and makes Vinexposium an agile, resilient facilitator of global trade in wines and spirits. We constantly liaise with our clients and partners and are ramping up our ability to adapt and offer them as many opportunities as possible.

Vinexpo 2019

Forums Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris, planned for June this year, will take place from 14 to 16 February 2022. Please tell us about the differences between these two sites. And what unites them?

Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris is actually a one and single event since the creation of Vinexposium, there is thus only one site to talk about with of course different areas covering wine regions all of France and a large presence of international wine regions as well. The event also includes the Be Spirits area, entirely dedicated to the world of spirits and mixology with the longest cocktail bar in the world called «The Infinite Bar».

Vinexpo Paris and Vinexpo Bordeaux. How are the roles assigned, will the Bordeaux exhibition focus solely on offering French wines to international buyers? Is there a risk that Vinexpo Bordeaux will become a regional event?

The format of Vinexpo Bordeaux will be totally different as of its next edition in June 2022, maybe more like a business convention vs. a traditional fair. The work is still in progress at the moment, and we cannot develop it all here, but 1. it will be complementary with Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris and 2. It will address both French and International wine professionals.

Business Vinexpo

WOW! The platform, created by Vinexpo in 2017 for organic wine producers, has logically grown into a separate exhibition and will be held in February 2022. Could you name the countries and individual regions – the leaders in organic wines which are most actively involved in your special events?

In a global market where production and consumption of organic and biodynamic wines are constantly on the increase, the WOW! Meetings will bring together supply and demand under one roof. This unique location will fulfil the needs of producers and an increasingly diversified array of buyers. Major international buyers and European supermarkets, but also wine merchants and restaurants will benefit from ad hoc business meetings.

Our challenge is to meet the needs of the industry and to align as closely as possible with its expectations. The challenge surrounding organic products is such that we felt compelled to create this dedicated business event. Organic is no longer simply a trend, but a full-fledged industry driver. The Wow! Meetings will provide organic wines with a business meeting platform on the eve of our major Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris exhibition.

Organic wines will also be showcased as part of the WONDERFUL programme during Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris where producers will have stands and there will be opportunities to take the floor and host dedicated tastings. And the WOW! area will continue to form an integral part of Vinexpo events internationally. The World Wine Meetings umbrella brand, which hosts business events worldwide, will continue to gain traction internationally and starting in 2022 will provide new events on markets with high potential for growth.

In addition, WBWE Asia will be held in the little-known city of Yantai – what is the specificity of the place and the event itself, what packages of participants are offered? For what volume of beam production can this forum be cost-effective? Wine material from which countries and which places of origin is especially popular in the world today and, in particular, in China? Are there any numbers that could illustrate your position?

According to the latest IWSR-Vinexposium Report, while domestic wines account for 89% of consumption, imports have been gaining significant ground against a faltering locally produced still wine segment. In 2019, the first 5 countries from which China imports wine are, by order: France (15,5 million of 9-litre Cases), Australia (13,7 million of 9-litre Cases), Chile (8 million of 9-litre Cases), Spain (6,3 million of 9-litre Cases), Italy (4,7 million of 9-litre Cases).

Business Vinexpo 2019

Perhaps, the intention to hold Vinexpo India for the first time in such conditions, which will be held in New Delhi from 9 to 11 December 2021 in partnership with the Indian exhibition company Sial, can be considered a very bold step. Your argument for this decision is that Vinexpo’s mission is to open up new markets and be a guide to the future. We have a saying about this: He who does not take risks does not drink champagne! And since we are talking about champagne, for which categories of wines, in your opinion, do you intend to open the Indian market (which is more popular in this market: still, sparkling, sweet)? Wines from which regions of France are popular in India?

According to the latest IWSR-Vinexposium Report, wine is increasingly popular in India, especially with women and the spirits markets mainly concerns whisky, rum and brandy. Wine consumption in India increased by 3.9% in 2019, with value even outpacing volume growth at 4.5%. Wine growth is driven principally by the growing middle class in the major cities of Mumbai, New Delhi-Gurgaon and Bangalore, with important additional volumes in Goa and Pune. This is being reinforced by increasing take-up of wine in Tier Two and Three cities (although not always an easy proposition given the minefield of regulation), as well as a growing female consumer base for whom wine is seen as an acceptable drink.

Judging by your interviews, you are planning to combine wine and spirits at Vinexpo India. Are there separate venues planned for these two types of drinks, like Be Spirits? Perhaps, special presentation formats have been thought out for strong alcohol, is there any specificity for a presentation in the Indian market?

According to the latest IWSR-Vinexposium Report, most of the India’s wine market consists of local products (81%). Most imported wines come from Australia (37%), followed by Italian wines at 15%. In 2019, Chilean wines pushed forward, taking share from both French and Spanish products. In 2019, total imports grew by +4.3% to 0.5m nine-liter cases, driven in large partly by still wine (+4.4%) against a slower sparkling wine segment (1.5%).

Business Vinexpo 2019

In 2020, did Vinexposium have any experience of hosting a Shanghai exhibition on an online platform? What are your impressions and what is the feedback from the participants? Are you ready to transfer all exhibitions online in the context of a lockdown and how do you see the future of wine exhibitions in general?

With Vinexposium Connect, which we are launching at Vinexpo Shanghai, we are adapting to a very challenging environment and officially rolling out a powerful tool that can be used by industry members who need to network and source information and quality services. With a keen sense of the needs of its clients and partners, Vinexposium is demonstrating its ability to adapt by launching Vinexposium Connect. This will allow it to continue to provide unfailing support for trade relations and business between wine regions and international markets.

Vinexposium will be rolling out a raft of interactive digital solutions in order to diversify its proposition for the global wine and spirits industry. The new range of content, officially launched by Vinexpo Shanghai, will be available online 24/7 worldwide and will address every strand of the industry through Vinexposium’s powerful network.

Active international trade buyers with Vinexposium and members of the wine and spirits industry across-the- board will be invited to join the live sessions online (subsequently available as replays) free of charge. The new scheme prioritises Chinese wine market professionals but will expand its audience through broad-ranging promotion and content available on the Vinexposium Connect platform.

As a rule, exhibition companies have their own analytical departments that monitor the market and make forecasts. Does Vinexposium have a team of analysts, or do you use a partner research (which company is this)? Name, if possible, 3 main trends on the world alcohol market that seemed especially interesting to you personally and why?

Vinexposium partners with The IWSR Institute which produces 5 years forecast for us every year.

Organic, Biodynamic, Low Intervention is one of the key trends and we are monitoring it closely, as well as the no/low alcohol trend: there is indeed a global trend towards a reduction in alcohol consumption, particularly on mature markets; and last but not least, there is a clear craft trend in spirits that is now top of consumers’ minds going forward.

Vinexposium

What makes you confident about this exhibition site at such a time: the growth of the beam, more reliable partners in China, something else?

The last 18 months have demonstrated that the exhibition and face to face meetings are up most important to help the Wine and Spirits industry to develop their business. If indeed we have learned to work with more digital interaction, we have developed e-tasting, our product, which is liquid cannot be experienced if only done through a laptop or a mobile. Our products are changing from one year to another. Every element of a tasting matters: smell, colour… which can’t be perceived online.

At the same time, since January, the demand from the Wine and Spirit industry to resume trade shows is important. Of course, we can see that the sanitary situation is very different from one continent to another, from one country to another. This is why, through our series of event worldwide, we are able to offer secure and safe events to our clients. We will start in Asia, with Shanghai, in October and close the 2021 in Amsterdam for our show dedicated to the bulk wine industry.

In 2022, we are going to be back in Europe (Paris), America (New-York) and Asia (Hong Kong) in the first semester. I am expecting that we are going to take back a normal life in 2022.

This is one of the most affected industries by the pandemic. How does Vinexposium plan to adapt to the current conditions, what are the plans, new formats, directions?

Of course, we have been extremely impacted by the pandemic. Who could have imagined that we would be forbidden to work everywhere in the world? We had to adjust, reschedule, rethink how we could deliver value to our industry partners. Of course, we have made significant effort to go on the digital side through our Vinexposium Connect platform. Our platform is here to supplement our face-to-face events. We deliver market intelligence, voice of CEO, women, who matters in the industry, come and explain their views. But we are very eager to resume our events. This is what we do, what we live for!

In his interview, Rodolphe Lameyse, CEO at Vinexpo, shares with Drink+ readers the company vision, future project concepts for forums Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris, Vinexpo Bordeaux, the WOW! Platform, Vinexpo Shanghai and Vinexpo India.

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