After a two-year hiatus, Italian wine fair Vinitaly returns

After a two-year gap due to pandemic-related cancellations, Vinitaly, the Italian wine, spirits and gastronomy fair, closed its 54th edition in Verona last week. Overall attendance is down sharply compared to previous years, with a drop of almost 30% compared to the last edition in 2019.

However, Veronafiere, the show’s organizer, noted that the 2022 show is specifically aimed at the wine trade, as opposed to both industry and consumers. Several participants found this focus on business valuable.

“You could say we were all surprised at how good it was [for] this year’s edition,” says Alfredo Falvo, owner of Masseria Li Veli in Puglia. “[The] good thing for us, [and] perhaps for all the producers, it was that for the first time there were fewer private consumers visiting, so the effort was all concentrated on trade and the press. This meant fewer people, less traffic and more productivity.

Producers were eager to reconnect with collaborators and finally have face-to-face opportunities to develop new partnerships.

“After two years without meeting them, we needed to shake their hands, observe them and lay the foundations for future projects,” explains Andrea Di Fabio, general manager of Cantina Tollo in Abruzzo. “In fact, it has been very difficult over the past two years to finalize or obtain final decisions on new projects, activations or commitments from all markets due to global uncertainty. The human touch, the meetings face to face or a simple handshake in the past would affirm that the projects are moving forward.

“Vinitaly is meant to bring people together, and it’s the ultimate networking event for the Italian wine industry. We were very happy to get back to it. —Giuseppe LoCascio, Lucidity Wine Merchants

Foreign buyers accounted for a record 28% of total fair attendees, with 25,000 international visitors from 139 countries. Trade members from the United States continued to lead in international participation, followed by those from Germany, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Many importers, distributors, US wine buyers and members of the media attended the fair in hopes of revitalizing business opportunities after two uncertain years.

“The past two years have been challenging in terms of maintaining existing relationships and building new ones,” says Giuseppe LoCascio, who opened import company Lucidity Wine Merchants in Sacramento, California in 2021. “You can’t do much over a video call and we’ve all grown tired of doing business through a screen Vinitaly is all about bringing people together, and it’s the ultimate networking event for Italian wine industry. We were very happy to get back into it.”

Vinitaly 2022 was aimed at wine professionals / Photo via Ennevi-Veronafiere

Additionally, many importers wanted the opportunity to find ways to grow their portfolios again.

“We have focused on areas and regions where we do not yet have representation, such as Marche, Puglia and Lombardy,” explains Nunzio Castaldo, president of Panebianco Wines in New York. “In addition, we have focused our attention even more on natural and sustainable wines.”

Despite the general air of positivity on Vinitaly’s return, many in the sector have expressed concerns about the future of the wine industry, citing looming global issues that could have the biggest impact on small and medium-sized wine companies.

When asked if this year’s Vinitaly could be considered a success, Castaldo quickly answered with a resounding yes. However, he was also quick to note that “while the export of Italian wines to the United States has shattered all records in recent years, the outlook for 2022 reveals a worrying picture due to a series of factors which herald a problematic year Escalating raw material and transport costs will inevitably lead to a substantial erosion of margins, which, together with the inflationary spiral, will affect confidence and, consequently, global consumption.

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