The drinks trade has welcomed the return of big face-to-face events, saying they will play a crucial part in reinvigorating the industry post Covid. Particularly if sport is involved.
Fast out the blocks
‘We’ve not been able to conduct business properly for two years,’ said importer Geoffrey Legge-Buffaw.
‘So it’s great to see these big, busy networking events back in the calendar.
‘I’m already looking forward to snoozing through a four-day cricket match with a lot of customers and journalists, and then claiming the whole thing on expenses.’
Others were similarly relieved.
‘This is an industry that relies on people doing business while getting quietly drunk,’ said fine wine merchant Ron Primeur. ‘And for that I personally prefer cricket matches to trade fairs.
‘Though I did once get so hammered at Vinexpo that I peed in the lake.’
Primeur is attending three five-day tests against New Zealand with his ‘really important contracts’, and has booked tickets for a match against India later in the summer to cover any unfinished negotiations.
‘With a whole series of one-day matches for smaller clients it’s already looking like a bumper summer for sales,’ he said.
Game, set and match
Bailey Oll-College from Corduroy and Boring wine merchant said he was looking at his busiest summer of work for several years.
‘For the next four months my diary is rammed with key business appointments,’ he told Fake Booze. ‘Epsom, Newmarket and Ascot are already a huge commitment – and Queens and Wimbledon take up almost a month between them.
‘It’s just work, work work. I’ll be lucky to find any time to relax.’
Some trade members say they have been able to balance the stress of increased entertaining with some much needed down time.
‘Vinitaly was a real tonic,’ said restaurant supplier Ed Otria. ‘We discussed The Champions League, the Masters, and even next year’s rugby Six Nations.’
In-person discussions like this, he said, had been ‘all but impossible’ for the last two years and the trade had really suffered as a result.
‘Lengthy chat about non-business related topics,’ he told Fake Booze, ‘is very much what the drinks world is all about.’
However not all events will be sold out.
When asked if he was going to ProWein, Legge-Buffaw said ‘I’m afraid not. In my experience you go all the way to Germany to listen to a lot of people talking about buying and selling wine.
‘And in the current economic climate we simply can’t justify that sort of non-essential expense.’
Click here to read about how this year’s London Wine Fair will take place in Dusseldorf