Nearly 150,000 wine industry professionals descended upon Vinitaly, Italy’s biggest annual trade show, held in Verona from March 22–25.
While attendance fell slightly compared to last year’s 156,000 visitors, professionals from more than 140 countries came to the event, 20 more than in 2014.
“The huge U.S. and Canadian markets alone accounted for 20% of international visitors, totaling 55,000 people,” says Giovanni Mantovani, CEO and director general of Veronafiere, the show’s organizer.
A rise in domestic attendance also generated optimism among the more than 4,100 exhibitors.
“[It was] an effervescent Vinitaly with good appointments and good attendance by buyers,” says Domenico Zonin, CEO of the Zonin family firm. “The home market performed well, with the slight economic recovery bearing some fruit.”
The event highlighted the current trends in Italian wine, one of which, to no one’s surprise, is still sparkling wine. Crowds packed stands where producers poured Prosecco and Prosecco Superiore, and metodo classico strongholds Trento DOC and Franciacorta.
The continued popularity of organic and “natural” wines was also on display. The second edition of Vinitalybio, a dedicated space for certified-organic producers, attracted large crowds, as did the Vivit (Vigne Vignaioli Terroir) exhibition area.
Now in its fourth year, the Vivit section hosted more than 120 small, artisanal firms specializing in handcrafted wines from Italy, the U.K., France, Germany, Austria and Slovenia.
Debuting this year was an area for Fivi, the Italian Federation of Independent Wine-Growers. A consistent flow of attendees tasted wines from 56 grower-producers that make wine with its estate grapes.
“We founded the organization in 2008 with 300 members, and now there are over 900,” said Leonildo Pieropan, co-founder of Fivi and owner of the iconic Pieropan Soave Classico brand.
But Vinitaly isn’t all business. Verona was bustling at night as visitors packed local restaurants and pubs, and local wine estates hosted elaborate dinners.
The Wine Enthusiast cocktail party, held March 22 at the downtown Victoria Club Bar, attracted luminaries from the Italian and U.S. wine industries, including Alessio and Francesca Planeta from the eponymous Sicilian firm; Allegrini Estates’ Marilisa Allegrini; José Rallo of Donnafugata; Marco Caprai, of Arnaldo Caprai; famed consulting enologist Riccardo Cotarella; Matteo Lunelli, president of Ferrari Winery and Italy’s leading celebrity chef, Gianfranco Vissani.