London Wine Fair Lowdown

Get this year's lowdown on the London Wine Fair, as told by Anita Jackson and Karen Sutton.

The London Wine Fair is always an important event for Chilean wineries to meet their importers in the UK and other neighbouring markets, and this year was no exception. With five wine groups on the Wines of Chile stand, and 60 more Chilean wineries on individual stands, there was a good representation of the variety of Chile on offer.

Wines of Chile UK colleagues Anita Jackson and Karen Sutton takes us through a lowdown of the week:

Day 1
The fair opened and was immediately busy, there was a very strong turn out by the trade, key buyers and press were all in attendance.  The Wines of Chile stand was constantly busy with all of the wineries fully booked with meetings throughout the day and the Wines of Chile booth receiving so many visitors asking for information, details on Chile, meeting and greeting old and new faces, particularly the new buyers for the Co-op and Sainsbury’s supermarket. The first day is the day that the fair puts particular emphasis on the on-trade so It was so nice to see our now good friends the sommeliers that participated in the Wine Bar War 2015, they all came to say hi, and ask where they would find Chilean wineries within the fair. We have really established strong relationships with these guys and they are happy to be Chilean wine ambassadors. By 18.30 with the sun shining down into the hall it was time for a beer in the local pub across the road from Olympia, there the trade gathered to wind down and reflect on the day.

By Anita Jackson

Day 2
Day two of London Wine Fair broke with the news that our very own Anita Jackson is now the 33rd most influential person in the Wine Trade according to leading drinks industry magazine, Off Licence News. Quite right we say but always nice for a third party to endorse it! "A much higher placing than in the 2015 list reflects the impact Jackson has had on Chile’s fortunes since being appointed…”

The day on the stand kicked off more quietly than on Tuesday most probably because the sun had finally come out in London after a very long cold spell and it was too tempting for the visitors to linger in the sun before coming in. On a day like this if was lovely to be at Olympia with its grand vaulted ceilings and by lunch time there was a constant stream of visitors to the stand, our friends from ProChile UK came along to meet our colleagues from the wineries and were impressed with the calibre of visitors and the how well represented Chile was within the fair. It was noted that several other generics were not participating and were missing a huge opportunity. Late afternoon brought the Drinks Business Trade Awards presentation. Wines of Chile UK was shortlisted for Mercado Chileno, our consumer event in September 2015. We were pipped at the post by a big retail event but delighted to be recognised for raising the profile of Chile in the UK with an innovative and engaging event (video).

The day ended by attending the Off Licence News – Origin Wine (they have Origin Chile Fair Trade Wines) hosting a party at the Science Museum with a Star Wars theme – the date was May the Fourth!!! (Be with you). We were surrounded by Storm Troopers – rockets, space ships and beyond, nice way to end the day.

By Karen Sutton

Day 3
Day three began with bad news of alerts at railway stations and accidents on the roads. Always the quietest of the London Wine Fair days it could have been a disaster, but it proved to be a fantastic day with plenty of visitors to the stand and an incredibly buoyant atmosphere about our stand. Plenty of journalists toured the aisles and buyers visited Anita and the wineries on our stand. At 12.45 we had a Chile masterclass with Richard Hemming MW within the dedicated LWF masterclass area – we feared the worst as the word spread about the travel disruptions. Would we fill the seats? The organisers laid up only 2/3 of the room and although we asked for more they said we won’t need them, "the other classes have all be about that full…" But the lure of Chile proved too much and we were inundated with visitors trying to sneak in. A quick race around to the storeroom to find more glasses and a quick pouring of wine and we were away – with around 70 satisfied customers, all looking to taste some amazing Chilean wines. The theme Redefining Chile  "Brands to Boutique" was a fantastic overview of Chile's premium wines, and aimed to show guests how much there is to look out for in Chile today: across the spectrum and at all levels, there is something exciting to discover from Chile (see Richard's blog).

Business didn’t stop until 5 pm and even then people were coming up to the stand to ask questions. This was a very successful London Wine Fair where Chile shone, as mentioned before it was notable to guests that several other generic organisations were not present and we were applauded by our commitment.

By Karen Sutton

Thanks to all the Chilean wineries that participated on the Wines of Chile stand: Darwin Vineyards, Cremaschi Furlotti, Grupo Belen (whose portfolio included Morandé, Vistamar and their new range of boutique wines all made in concrete eggs), Beth Wines (which included Agustinos, Porta & Indómita, and the Wine Merchant (part of Vinedos de Aguirre). As well as all the wineries that came on their individual importer stands. There was a great show of Chilean wines on offer.

The next London Wine Fair is planned for 22-24 May 2017 in the Olympia again.