The London International Wine Fair: Is British Still Best?

May 2013

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit and speak at the London International Wine Fair (LIWF). In addition to the exhibitor stands and tastings, more than 20 seminars and master classes took place – and it is in this area that, in my opinion, the LIWF really excels.

While many now perceive Prowein in Germany as the European wine fair of choice for New World producers, it is the quality of the discussions that LIWF offers – many of which tackle real industry issues – that makes it stand out from its counterparts. For me this is unsurprising: the UK is a trend setter, thought leader and a proving ground for New World producers – elements which are reflected in these seminars.

Establishing a UK distribution base is a prestigious achievement for international producers, and can be a significant driver of volume as well as a sound platform to launch into the more lucrative European markets. At LIWF this was reflected in the fact that a large portion of this year’s event was dedicated to wineries from Brazil, Russia, India, China (BRIC) and Uruguay – nascent winemaking nations to be sure.

Although LIWF has decreased in size over recent years, the savvy among the trade will recognise that the wineries that attend can have important distribution links in the enormous, and relatively new, BRIC consumer markets. In an increasingly globalised wine trade, this is something that is definitely worth coming to London for.

Next year’s LIWF is undergoing a face-lift and moving back to west London, where it was originally held. Ross Carter, event director, has stressed that it will be more focused on the UK trade, address even more relevant issues in its seminar and tasting line-up and provide greater value for exhibitors and visitors. In my opinion, these changes are very welcome – the UK’s wine market has a lot to offer, and it’s about time we started shouting about it.

Justin Knock, winemaking consultant at Encirc Wines

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