Video Story: Vinitaly 2009
Cautious optimism returns to Italian wine at the world's largest wine fair.
Vinitaly, the world's largest international wine fair closed April 6th in Verona, the same day a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit the Abruzzo area of central Italy, killing hundreds and destroying stone towns and villages in the mountainous region.
In solidarity, officials closed the Abruzzo building that is one of a dozen pavilions at the fair so that operators working there could return to their families.
Despite the somber atmosphere at the end of the five-day wine exhibition, the mood during this year's 43rd annual edition was surprisingly upbeat and positive despite the general economic gloom.
"To see this important number of foreign and Italian operators, importers and winemakers is sincerely beyond anything we expected at this moment of crisis," said Pia Donata Berlucchi (Fratelli Berlucchi): "It was even more surprising to see that these people came here with business projects, innovation, hope and optimism for the future."
This year's Vinitaly was attended by some 150,000 people (with one in three from a foreign country) and saw a record 4,250 exhibitors. The number of foreign operators in attendance also broke records: 45,000 attended this year over 43,000 the previous year.
One observation that was shared by many at Vinitaly was that despite the good business atmosphere, fewer Americans were in attendance. "We saw a huge presence of operators from Europe and Asia," said Castello Banfi General Manager Enrico Viglierchio: "But the number of Americans was noticeable lower."
Wine Enthusiast Magazine was indeed present at Vinitaly with a double sized stand. Italian Editor Monica Larner presented a seminar of the Top 100 Italian Wines (culled from the magazine's year-end Top 100 Best Buys, Top 100 Wines and Top 100 Cellar Selections) that was attended by some 70 people. Some of Italy's most celebrated vintners attended including Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Fattoria Petrolo, Tenuta Sette Ponti, Feudi di San Gregorio, Tua Rita and Marchesi Antinori.