It was a lot of fun presenting at last year’s event, but the audience was pretty limited at the Access Zone (an area focused on the Internet’s role in the wine trade). 2011 was totally different. The area was bigger and it was full of people at every presentation. It’s obvious that the wine trade is catching up to what Vrazon and its members have been saying for a long time. The Internet is playing a crucial role in wine communication, wine sales, and so on. It cannot be ignored!
This is a post about the price of participating in wine fairs (especially expensive trade fairs) and its effect on the cost of wine. I look specifically at participation in the London International Wine Fair. I think the costs of these fairs makes conventional participation too expensive for small independent producers, but the fair does make sense for larger producers or grouped producers.
What is a trade fair?
A trade fair is a large exhibition of wine producers intended for a professional audience (as opposed to a salon or foire which is generally open to the public). Trade Fairs can feature some public speakers, but they tend to center around the wine exhibition (as opposed to conferences which tend to be more about speakers). You don’t really sell bottles at a trade show. The hope is more to make deals for larger quantities.
note: this photo is of Millesime Bio which is actually one of the most reasonably priced and scaled trade fairs. Instead of hiring a stand, you get a table. And everybody has the exact same table and table cloth. No massive two story buildings for the bigger wineries. Just the same plain white table. An interesting twist.
Throughout the year, there are many trade fairs such as the LIWF (London), VinExpo/ViniSud (alternating years in Bordeaux/Montpellier), and ProWein (Düsseldorf). These are massive wine fairs full of stands (hundreds or even thousands of them) intended largely for professional audiences consisting of retailers, importers, negociants, journalists, etc.
You pay a pretty penny for your stand (thousands of euros for a small stand at an event that lasts a few days) and you hope to rack up as many business meetings and journalist sightings as possible.
How much does a trade fair cost?
The short of it is that trade fairs cost a lot. There is the basic cost of getting a stand. Then there are all sorts of ancillary costs like travel, lodging, and stand furniture. In the best case scenario, a fair like ViniSud might cost just over 1,000 Euros for the small stands. In the more extravagant scenarios, shows like VineExpo and the LIWF can cost thousands just to get in the door. And then you still have to furnish the stand and make it look different than the hundreds of other stands within line sight of yours. And if you want electricity, lighting, ice to chill your whites, or really anything other than a carpeted stand, you’ll probably have to pay for it.
I don’t want to be purely theoretical, so let’s grab some real numbers from the official trade fair websites.
– Shell package at £346/per sq.m. – Space only at £291/per sq.m
Shell Package is a pre-built stand with walls, lights, name-plates, shelving and a counter, which you just need to ‘dress’.
Space only is the name given to an area with nothing whatsoever on it. You are literally renting an empty ‘space’ on which you must build your own stand.
I’m not sure what the minimum space is at LIWF, and they’re not answering my emails (probably busy organizing the event which is just around the corner). But, from memory, the smallest stands still seemed to be at least 6 square meters. You might think thrifty winemakers always choose to self-furnish, but it’s not that simple. We can’t generally bring furniture on the RyanAir flight to Stansted. It often comes out cheaper to rent the conference’s furnishings. So you come out to 2400 Euros for a tiny stand. That doesn’t include the cost of shipping wine over, travel, lodging, etc.
270 Euros / square meter with a minimum 16 square metre space (4320 Euro minimum). And that’s for the cheap spaces that are only exposed on one side. There is separate pricing for the stands that are exposed on two, three and four sides. And that is just the stand price. There are additional registration fees just to open an dossier or to gain the right to be an indirect exhibitor (600 to 740 Euros).
To give you an idea of what exhibitors spend, VinExpo now has a clef en main offer where you really get a furnished stand where all the work has been done for you.. it’s 16 square meters and costs 9,920 euro. It includes “moquette, cloisons mitoyennes, 1 fronton avec logo de l’exposant, 1 bar comptoir avec évier et branchement eau, 1 vitrine, 1 réserve avec étagères de rangement, 1 patère, du mobilier (1 table ronde, 3 chaises, 2 tabourets hauts, 1 frigo, 1 poubelle), de la décoration florale, électricité (2 prises 24H/24H éclairage), le nettoyage journalier, l’assurance.”
ProWein is one of the most reasonably priced trade fairs which probably explains why it’s gaining so much popularity as an International event. Every year, they get more and more International visitors, apparently. I actually haven’t been so I can’t talk much about it. But even a less expensive fair is still going to end up costing the thriftiest exhibitor 1000+ Euros.
How do trade fairs affect cost of wine?
Well, it really depends on what kind of winemaker you are.
Some of my favorite producers like Domaine Revelh have barely 2 hectares of vines. They’re producing just a few thousand bottles of wine each year. Participation in a single trade show can easily raise the price of a bottle of their wine by 20-50 cents!
On the other hand, producers who put out 3 million bottles each year can amortize the cost of all the major wine fairs over 3 million bottles. In that case, the expense of a much larger stand at each of these fairs, and employees to occupy said stand only add fractions of a cent to each bottle.
It’s hard to generalize, but for your average boutique wine (where production tends to be less than 100,000 bottles per year) attending several trade fairs can mean a significant increase in cost on the wine (several cents per bottle).
As a winery, you’re hoping to generate long term sales. Even if you only make a couple one pallet sales, there’s a chance those merchants reorder your wine again in a few months and again after that. Alternatively, you can meet up with everybody who already buys your wine and taste the new vintage with them. Or you can get some press attention while all the journalists are in town (and again, hopefully this leads to sales).
As a wine drinker though… you have to feel a bit cheated. The cost of the trade fair gets incorporated into the overhead of running a winery and it gets tacked on to the final bottle price. It’s a cost that doen’t improve the quality of the wine.
Additionally, you won’t even benefit from the experience of the the trade show since it isn’t even intended for consumers. Whereas participation in events like Le Grand Tasting can at least be enjoyed by the general wine-drinking public, participation in trade shows is never meant to trickle down to consumers. The only potential benefit to the consumer is that a trade show can create a better supply chain making the product available in your market. But generally speaking, trade shows represent a cost that does not improve the end user’s experience of the wine. So is it worth it? Hmmm..
My UK importer, Naked Wines, strongly discourages its winemakers from expensive trade shows like this. Their philosophy is that all the money we spend should go into making the wine better. However they are pretty keen on some of my low-cost shenanigans which I talk about elsewhere.
What do you think? Are trade fairs a necessary means of finding supply chains? Or are they a bit of bloat that inflates wine prices unnecessarily?
It’s been a week or so now and I watched a great video recap of what went down in the Access Zone at the London International Wine Fair. As you can see, I’m not the only one talking about social media and new technology. Quite the contrary, I was just a small part of a huge new space at the LIWF and I’m really proud to have been surrounded by so much innovation, excellence and friendliness.
So this video from the LIWF will give you a little taste of the events that were programmed in the space and if you want more information about anything, you’ll likely find it on Catavino’s site.
I just wrapped up my first day at the London International Wine Fair 2010. It was pretty awesome. You’ve got the usual schmoozing with winos you’ve met the world over. And somewhere amidst all the kissing hands and shaking babies (might be backwards, or maybe not) you get to taste a lot of wine.
One highlight was the launch announcement for the European Wine Blogger’s Conference in Austria this year. The guy presenting the wines, Willi Klinger, is a champion. He’s amazing. And the wines were neat too.
Also a couple big Languedoc moments which I’ll probably talk more about at Love That Languedoc. But Gerard Bertrand, Puech Haut and O’Vineyards (3 Languedoc properties) all made appearances in the Access Zone on DAY ONE of the LIWF. What that says to me is that the Languedoc is cutting edge on this thing called the Internet.
And of course, if you’d like to see me goofing around with Oscar Quevedo, drinking in the morning, here is the video from Catavino. It has an awkward, wholesome Sesame Street vibe. You know.. if Sesame Street did an episode on winos.
How do you convince a bunch of wine professionals to work with other winemakers? You do it with the help of other winemakers, obviously!
I’m going to share the stage with Oscar Quevedo of Oscar’s Wine in the Douro Valley of Portugal. We’re going to leave the powerpoint presentation at home and we’re going to try to make people giggle as we taste through some of our favorite wines in the world: each other’s!
This offbeat performance is scheduled at 11 AM on Tuesday, May 18th, and it will take place at the daringly named “Access Zone” of the wine fair. Please stop by. You will have a blast. You will taste some yummy wines. You will even taste a wine cocktail. We will break every rule wine snobs hold dear. And we will do it all before noon time on a Tuesday. Because that is how we roll in the Access Zone.
11:00 Winery Collaboration with Quevedo and O-Vineyards
Oscar Quevedo from the Douro and Ryan O’Connell from the Languedoc, two powerful social media enabled wine producers, will show the power of collaboration in a live wine tasting of each others wines. Be prepared to laugh, enjoy some great wines, and have a good time. Not to mention learn something about how collaboration will lead to success with your wineries wines!
The Access Zone also has a ton of other wine programming organized by Catavino. Later on Tuesday, there’s going to be a deal with Tim Atkins (The Wine Gang) and Gérard Bertrand’s ‘Tautavel’ wine. Bertrand is another heavy hitter from the Languedoc and a French rugby legend, and I guess he’ll be making an appearance too. If the lineup of the access zone is indicative of the rest of the London Wine Fair, the LIWF should be a hoot and a half.
London, prepare yourself. You are about to be accessed…hard… ew.
How to find us
Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387
Wine, Dine, Relax at our Boutique Vineyard
Unique thing to do in Carcassonne
Wine Cellar. Winery Visits. Wine Tasting.
Wine & Food Pairing
North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910
Best by GPS.
Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.