Earlier this year, I was invited to attend VinItaly in Verona, the largest showcasing of Italian wines in the world. With the 2019 event fast approaching(April 7-10), I thought I would lay out a few reasons to attend (as well as a few reasons why one might want to avoid) attending VinItaly.
First the Pros:
- It is a spectacle. Unless you have been to an enormous wine trade show before, you will likely be flabbergasted at its size. There are fourteen gigantic convention halls, all packed with hundreds of producers, meaning just about every producer in Italy is there. The size of the booths range from a few square feet to what seems like a New York City block. I spent a good part of my three days there just marveling at the amount of planning, organization, and construction that it all requires. It is mind-boggling.
- Everyone is there. Over the last several years, I have been to Italy several times and have met numerous wonderful winemakers and others associated with Italian wine production, and I ran into just about every one of them. They were certainly busy, meeting with retailers, suppliers, other producers, and therefore our interactions were brief, but it was great to chat with those that I have met over the years.
- It’s huge. I simply can’t overstate how humongous the whole thing is. There are not just producers from every region in Italy there, there are scores of producers from every region in Italy at VinItaly. If you can’t find something to your liking out of the thousands of producers and tens of thousands wines being poured, you either hate wine or, well, you hate wine.
- The people. Not only was I able to say hello to a lot of the people who I had met on previous trips to Italy, but I met a host of others that soon became fast friends. Above all, I believe that wine has the ability, and is intended, to bring people together, which is possible at every turn at VinItaly.
- It saves time and money. In a matter of minutes, it seems, I made fast friends with a retailer from Southern California and a Duty-Free negotiant (never knew there was such a thing) who came to VinItaly to find new producers and reconnect with their long-time suppliers. Following them around was fascinating–they were both on a mission to try current releases and to find new gems. They had pretty tight schedules (although Italians don’t seem to know what that means) and they were able to meet with dozens of people who would have taken perhaps weeks if they travelled to each individual winery.
- The Wine. There is a ton of wine at VinItaly. Tons and tons of great wine.
- Verona. VinItaly takes place in one of Italy’s great cities, Verona. If you have never been to the jewel of the Veneto, that is reason enough to go.
The same reasons, however, could be used to dissuade one to attend the largest exhibition of Italian wines. Thus, the Cons:
- It is a spectacle. If part of the allure to wine for you is romantic: small producers toiling their own land, crafting their wines carefully in a cellar that has been in their family for the last countless generations, well, VinItaly is not that. Sure, many of the producers who fit that description will be there, with photos, maps, even videos of their little plots of heaven, but it will be as far away from any hectare of land with carefully manicured wines as you could imagine.
- Everyone is there. Since just about every person I have ever met in Italy (and even some from France) was there, I was under pressure (self-imposed, but still) to try to stop by to at least say hello to all of those that have been so kind and welcoming. Since I was posting almost hourly to social media, it was very difficult to hide the fact that I was “in the building” (not that I wanted to, but you get the point).
- It’s huge. It would be impossible to even attempt to try everything at VinItaly. I doubt one could even visit half the booths in one of the halls (and there are fourteen of them). Thus it can be overwhelming. It can also be tiring. According to my Apple Watch, I covered close to 30 kilometers (18 miles) in one day. That’s kind of a lot. And I did it for three days.
- The People. There are a ton of people. And they are everywhere (although I have to admit that it was not quite as bad as some had made it out to be).
- It saves time and money. Since time and money were of the essence, there was little time to delve deeper and discover the stories that make wine so special (at least to me). I met a fifth generation winemaker who makes absolutely exquisite wines, but he and his daughter were running around pouring wines and had no time to chat about how and why the traditions and expertise keep getting handed down.
- The Wine. The amount of wine there is crazy. Sure you want to try every one, but there is simply no way (and spitting is essential).
- Verona. I can’t think of a single reason not to go to Verona. Well, maybe one.
So there you have it. Have you ever been to VinItaly? I would love to hear your thoughts!