Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about what’s new in the world of spirits festivals. One hot addition comes from an old name. For almost four decades, Vinexpo has served as tentpole show for the wine industry. Now, the French giant is making some changes—including the addition of an aggressive spirits component to the upcoming Vinexpo Paris (Feb. 10-12, 2020). In an exclusive interview with Neat Pour, the organization’s newly installed Directeur Général Rodolphe Lameyse discussed the future of Vinexpo Paris.
After taking the reins in April, Lameyse immediately began making his mark. From the get-go, he understood that the show is industry driven and that the industry would comprise the ultimate jury.
“Vinexpo is a very renowned brand, but I knew that it would be a bit challenging. It’s a strong brand, but there was a disconnection with the market,” he recalled. “[You need to] make sure that you are clear about your strengths. Reshape the relationships with the winemakers, the producers, redesign together what they expect from the company.”A major part of the push to redesign those expectations centers around the annual satellite shows that support the flagship, biennial Vinexpo Bordeaux. Debuting in Winter 2020, Vinexpo Paris is the most prominent of these new events and poised for explosive growth.
From a geographic angle, the emphasis on Paris is only logical—a fact not lost on the CEO. He noted that France consistently ranks among the top wine producing nations in the world. He also pointed out that city itself is only a couple hours from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, and many more famed regions. “Paris is the center of the wine territories.”
In a subtle jab at the competing ProWein show, Lameyse also accurately quipped, “Paris is more beautiful than any city in Germany.”
A second benefit of the Parisian locale was an opportunity to grow by using existing resources. In 2020, Vinexpo Paris will incorporate Wine Paris. (Wine Paris was created by the 2018 merger of Vinisud and Vinovision.) The result is a massive show promising the convergence of over 2800 exhibitors and 30,000 visitors at the start of the buying season.
“France is the second largest wine producing country. So obviously we should have one of the biggest shows in the world,” Lameyse said of the merger. “The shows are supplementing each other; so why not join forces, meet a larger audience?”
Yet, size is not the ultimate goal. To the contrary, Lameyse is concerned about keeping the show small enough to allow interaction. “We are very strong with premium and super premium brands with buyers. But, when you have too many and its gets lost”
Note: To the Vinexpo team, interaction time is literally a science. In addition to the option of scheduled meetings, they believe their calculations call for a preferred minimum of 140 seconds of dialogue with an exhibitor during an informal chat.While wine is unquestionably the event’s anchor, a key goal of leadership is to continue evolving. To that end, organic wines will be featured in a dedicated area. ‘WOW! World of Organic Wine’ will be a centrally located space boasting over 200 organic cuvées.
However, the biggest addition is an emphasis on spirits. After launching last year, the BeSpirits segment is coming into its own in 2020.
The spirits driven area will include show staple such as education. Talks will tackle trends such as the “no /low Trend. Identity ritual and consumer experience, and building a bar identity & optimizing the offer.” Additional talks will center on brand issues like “The revival of ancient alcoholic drinks, Craft and commitment, and From distillery to tailor-made product.”However, where Vinexpo Paris truly presents a unique vision is their Infinite Bar. The 50 meter long behemoth is designed to simultaneously showcase both brands as well as some of France’s best bars. 24 bars including Jefrey’s, Dirty Dick, and Fitzgerald will be popping up at the Infinite Bar.
If the model sounds different, that’s the idea.
“We want to become the number one dedicated platform [and] Paris is the next important step,” declared Lameyse. “If you want to resend the company on the right track. we have to disrupt, we need to break the code.”