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Editor Andrew Arnott

Andrew Arnott

Andrew studied Literature and Sociology at UCT before setting off on a global trek that saw him working under the seas of the Caribbean, on the snow covered slopes of the Canadian Rockies and writing for a variety of financial and travel institutions. Now at home in Cape Town, Andrew’s passions for wine and writing are married on this blog.

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Prowein 2016: All You Need To Know

Expected to attract more than 53,000 visitors to Düsseldorf over three full-throttle days, ProWein 2016 looks set to be the biggest and most diverse yet with Bruce Jack listed as a highlight. 

It’s that time of year again, when the drinks trade packs its bags and decamps to Germany for one of the industry’s biggest trade fairs – ProWein.

From 13-15 March more than 6,000 exhibitors from 57 countries will converge on the city of Düsseldorf with 53,000 people expected to stream through the doors of its exhibition centre. It might be one fair among many in an increasingly packed industry calendar, but ProWein’s international appeal is unrivalled, according to Messe Düsseldorf’s director Michael Degen, setting it apart as one of the year’s most important events.

Acknowledging that the number of trade fairs on offer is now so huge there “aren’t enough days in the year” to attend them, Degen doesn’t necessarily see such events as competitors.

“There is no event as international as ProWein,” says Degen, the event’s director. “In Düsseldorf we reflect the entire world of wines. This year, 57 nations are represented as exhibitors. This in turn attracts visitors from all over the world – from more than 120 countries – visitors who are so vital to our exhibitors and who gain a perfect overview here.”

Prowein 2016

Wine and Spirits

Now 22 years old, the show will represent all wine-growing regions alongside a comprehensive range of spirits from across the world. As expected, the largest producers hail from France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Austria. But ProWein also boasts a line-up of producers from “exotic wine regions”, says Degen, citing examples like the Near East with Syria, Israel and Lebanon, as well as Eastern Europe with Moldavia, Latvia and Hungary.

From the New World, Canada’s presence this year will be “stronger than ever” with a total of 22 exhibitors attending. For the first time Mauritius and Korea will be at the fair, bolstering the event’s focus on spirits, while newly extended opening times promise to ease post-fair traffic and lengthen exhibitors’ time with clients. The show will now open from 10am to 7pm with the aim of “relaxing” the situation on roads and public transport around the grounds of the exhibition centre to avoid clashing with morning and evening rush hour traffic.

What's On Offer

So aside from its 6,200 exhibitor stands, offering plentiful opportunity to do business, what can visitors expect from this year’s fair? As always the fair’s main tasting area will be devoted to 500 wines from the Mundus Vini spring tasting – a prize awarded by an international jury of oenologists, wine analysts, specialist retailers, sommeliers, restaurateurs and trade journalists.

After three successful editions the Champagne Lounge – an area dedicated exclusively to Champagne – will return in 2016. The ProWein Forum will host a programme of themed tastings, seminars and lectures on markets and trends in the fair’s central presentation area. Here, Wine Intelligence will present the latest results of the ProWein study on future trends in wine retail, while the IWSR will give tips on how to reach younger consumers.

Other highlights include a lecture by winemaker Bruce Jack on the development of the South African wine industry and a seminar by Chinese oenologist Professor Li Demei on how to do successful business in China. The forum will be complemented by anever-diverse array of events hosted by individual exhibitors at their own stands, from presentations and seminars to vintage and archive tastings.

Making its debut in 2016 is The Organic Lounge. Hosted by three associations – Demeter, Bioland and Ecovin – this area will showcase organic and biodynamic wines paired with a selection of foods created by organic chef Karsten Bessai. Back for a second year, the fair’s “same but different” show will present “innovative solutions” for the production and marketing of wine with the aim of fostering the exchange of creative ideas within the sector. Innovations due to be presented by 10 participants this year include an “entirely blue wine” and wine presented in barrique oak bottles.

Prowein 2016

Brand Power

“It is extremely important for producers to hold their own alongside the mass of market players,” explains Degen. “Brands need a face, an unusual story that everyone can remember. It is not enough to merely rely on your product. Creative ideas and coherent marketing are more important than ever.”

Outside the fair’s walls, the popular ProWein goes City initiative will return, marking its 10th year, which will see select hotels, restaurants and retailers organise exclusive events in Düsseldorf for visitors to ProWein. Last year more than 80 events were hosted across the city, with one highlight being a wine evening with Château Palmer at Steigenberger Parkhotel.

In The Spirit

While ProWein remains a predominantly wine-focused affair, it will be bolstering its spirits offer in 2016. More than 400 spirits exhibitors from 30 different countries will be showcasing their portfolios at this year’s event, covering categories ranging from whisky and Cognac to vodka and gin. Mauritius and Korea will present specialty spirits at the fair for the first time through Enterprise Mauritius and South Korean brand Omynara, which will showcase spirits alongside its wine portfolio.

Also new for 2016 is the ‘Fizz Lounge’, which will showcase cocktail innovations and the latest bartender techniques. Led by Lukas Motejzik, owner of Munich bar Zephyr, the lounge will give guests the opportunity to learn about techniques such as smoke infusions and sous vide preparation techniques. There will also be a special focus on the emerging ‘shim cocktail’. Designed to strike a balance between non-alcoholic and high-strength cocktails, ‘shim’ cocktails are gaining popularity among “sensible epicures” thanks to ingredients such as shrubs and syrups, liqueurs and fortified wines like Sherry and vermouth.

While Degen has said he does not intend to expand floor space at the show, he is aiming to attract more visitors. Last year visitors to the fair numbered 52,000. This year the target stands at 53,000, with Degen setting his sights on drawing more people from growing wine markets, specifically Asia and the US.

“In terms of exhibitors, we have now reached a top limit of some 6,200 participants,” he says. “For this reason, we are currently focusing on canvassing new visitors. When it comes to Europe we are already in a good position and have all relevant experts onboard.

Prowein 2016

Asia Focus

“We therefore see more potential in the US and Asia – especially China, which despite current sales weakness is still a very interesting market; and not forgetting Korea and Japan. Consumers are extremely competent when it comes to wine but there is still a great deal of potential.”

In keeping with this push, this year’s show will feature signage for US visitors to highlight those producers who export to North America. Called Route USA, the initiative will feature 800 exhibitors, all of whom will carry an American flag on their stand. There will also be a special focus on Canada under the banner ‘50 Degrees North’. Wines of Canada will be taking up a dedicated stand for the third
year showcasing producers predominantly from Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia, with masterclasses on Canadian wine due to run twice daily.
As for Asia, the launch of ProWine China, now entering its fourth year, has helped to attract more Chinese visitors to the Düsseldorf show, with their numbers doubling since the show launched in Shanghai in 2013.

Degen is confident that the number of Asian visitors will continue to increase with the launch of its ProWein Asia in April this year, the latest addition to ProWein’s portfolio. Its inaugural event will run from 12 to 15 April 2016 in Singapore, while ProWine China will once again be held in Shanghai from 7 to 9 November 2016, where more than 650 exhibitors are expected.

The Big One

The Asian shows are clearly dwarfed by their German counterpart, however. Set over nine halls, its sheer size means that even the most hardy of trade veterans can become overwhelmed by ProWein’s vast offer. With this in mind, organisers have introduced a number of initiatives to help visitors make the most of their visit, including a dedicated app to navigate ProWein’s many halls. A matchmaking exchange service will also run prior to the event online, allowing visitors and exhibitors to post questions and offers online to encourage contact between exhibitors and potential customers before the event.

“A good structure is offered by the hall concept”, says Degen when asked how his team was working to help visitors navigate the fair. “Exhibitors are clearly divided according to country. The seminar and tastings are held either in the centrally located ProWein Forum in hall 13 or directly at exhibitors’ stands. This means distances are short and everything stays compact. What’s more, I advise everyone to prepare for the trade fair ahead of their visit. For this we offer the relevant tools in the form of our Exhibitor Database on our website or our ProWein App.”

With exhibitor numbers having reached capacity, and Degen confirming he has no intention to expand floor space, ProWein’s focus will now shift toward attracting more visitors and expanding on its activity worldwide. “Overall we want to consolidate and build upon ProWein’s success”, says Degen.

“For this further internationalisation is now key. April also sees the first ProWine Asia being held in Singapore”, says Degen. “This is also a very big project for us – alongside ProWine China that has run for the third time now in Shanghai and has already posted remarkable results in its short history.”

Key facts: ProWein 2016

  • ProWein 2016 will take place on 13-15 March in Düsseldorf, Germany.
  • Organised by Messe Düsseldorf, the event will be held at the Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre and will open from 10am to 7pm daily.
  • Around 6,000 exhibitors from 57 countries and more than 50,000 visitors are expected to attend, making it one of the biggest events in the drinks industry calendar.
  • All admission tickets entitle users to free travel to and from the exhibition grounds on the day of their visit.
  • For more information visit Prowein, or for a full programme of this year’s ProWein Goes City events visit Prowein Goes City.

This piece was originally published in …

The Drinks Business

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