Wine Enthusiast caught up with Michael Degen—director of the international wine and spirit trade event, ProWein—to get the scoop on what some 50,000 expected attendees will find at the fairgrounds in Düsseldorf, Germany, on March 15–17, 2015.
Wine Enthusiast: After celebrating Prowein’s 20th anniversary last year, the fair is expanding even further. Who are the new exhibitors?
Michael Degen: We increased the space available for ProWein 2015 in order to cater to our customers’ demand—both from long-standing exhibitors requiring more space to wine and spirits producers not previously exhibiting in Düsseldorf. In short, basically all nations and regions at ProWein required more space, so visitors can look forward to exploring new producers from all over the world.
WE: Can you put some figures on the growth?
MD: ProWein grew steadily throughout its 20-year history. The trade fair started in 1994 with 321 exhibitors from 9 countries and 1,570 visitors, mainly from Germany and neighboring European countries. In the anniversary year of 2014, ProWein attracted 4,830 exhibitors from 47 countries and more than 49,000 trade visitors from all over the world. In 2015, we expect more than 5,000 exhibitors and about 50,000 trade visitors. But actually, the numbers are not the most important measurements for the growth and the relevance of ProWein. It’s our international approach appeal that has turned ProWein into the leading international trade fair for wines and spirits. It’s an event by the trade and for the trade.
WE: People really mean business at ProWein. Deals are made and most arrive with a tight schedule of key meetings. How do you make them stop for your program of events?
MD: It’s actually not our program of events. The exhibitors themselves organize those events. You are right—ProWein is business—but those seminars and tastings are extremely well received by the visitors. They definitely value the second pillar of ProWein: an unprecedented knowledge pool.
WE: How many countries are represented at ProWein?
MD: All wine producing regions and nations that are active in the international wine market present at ProWein. While Germany is very well represented, 82% of the 5,000-plus exhibitors come from 49 other countries. On the visitors side, we welcome trade from retail and gastronomy from 110 countries, with the key wine import and/or wine consumption markets providing the biggest share of visitors.
WE: ProWein has become a launch-pad for new wine producing regions as well as long-established regions hitting international markets for the first time. Can you cite a particularly impressive example?
MD: True, ProWein is the event where newcomers on the international wine market present themselves to the sector for the first time. Why? Simply because of its international audience and explicit business focus. An example is the rising number of wineries from Lebanon taking part. There were three in 2012 and 17 in 2014. This year, wines from Bolivia will make their debut at the show.
WE: The theme of the spirits- and bartending-focused FIZZZ Lounge for 2015 is “Drinks of Tomorrow.” Can you give us a preview?
MD: Under the expert guidance of Lukas Motejzik, owner of Munich’s trendy bar Zephyr, visitors can learn about the latest bar techniques. For instance, special tasting experiences can be created by incorporating dried and fresh fruit, and spices, or by experimenting with smoke infusions. The sous-vide method known from food preparation has found its way into the bar scene and in the FIZZZ Lounge and ProWein attendees can find out how this works and tastes.