The first country to step up is Austria, which together with Vinexpo organisers, will stage two days of tastings, vineyard tours, workshops and networking over lunches and dinners, culminating in a gala dinner in Vienna on September 12.
Vinexpo CEO Guillaume Deglise (pictured), in unveiling the initiative in London today (January 17), said: “This is a revolutionary approach. It confirms our role as the leading partner of the wine and spirits industry.”
Austrian Wine Marketing Board’s ebullient managing director, Willi Klinger said: “We are thrilled to host the first edition of Vinexpo Explorer.”
Deglise said the format was to identify key buyers from markets Austria wanted to appeal to and invite them to attend the two-day event. To ensure they attracted buyers who were serious about buying Austrian wine, the buyers would be expected to pay for their own flights. Once in Austria, the AWMB would host them.
“We wish to create a community of buyers who meet every year, in different places. We want our buyers to work. The workshops will make it more successful. We will arrange and organise ‘One-to-Wine’ meetings, (first unveiled in 2015), between buyers and producers.”
“This high profile concept is a great opportunity for hosting a region or country so they can show their best to buyers,” said Deglise.
Why Austria? Deglise said Austria had been a loyal supporter of Vinexpo show and Vinexpo had a strong relationship with the AWMB. He went on to say: Austria provides a full range of table wines from white, red, rosé to sparkling. It has a good, positive image and has the potential to export. It was “hot and rising,” he said
For future Explorers, Deglise listed: the Douro, Sonoma, Western Australia, Greece, Sicily, Oregon, Languedoc. Even Scotland for whisky, he suggested, should they include spirits in the Explorer programme.
Klinger said that Explorer was a “once in a century event: the opportunity to pull out bottles normally nobody gets to see.”
He said Prowein was great for Europe and Germany, the latter being Austria’s largest export market by far with a 54% share, by value. But he explained that Vinexpo had an expertise, Austria needed to lock into and it was providing “unusual events, nobody else can give us.”
”We want to get their help (Vinexpo’s) with our internationalisation,” He said that while Austria was not a large volume producer able to meet entry level prices. Nevertheless, it had the capability to increase exports by something in the region of 10m litres.
Klinger highlighted Asian markets and the Americas which Vinexpo could give Austria. He said he also wanted to take sales in the UK to €150 million before he retired in a few years. Therefore UK buyers would be well represented at the Explorer in Austria, probably circa 10 buyers (10%). Whereas German buyers would be very thin on the ground as they already represented two-thirds of Austrian exports and the average price per litre there was very low.
Deglise was anxious to reassure German buyers that they would get their fair share of representation at future Explorers.
Klinger listed Austria’s top 10 export markets as: Germany, Switzerland, US, Netherlands, Sweden, China, Norway, Czech Republic, Italy and Finland with the UK coming in at 11th.