As stakeholders from the global wine and spirits industries prepare to reunite on U.S. soil March 9-10 for the first time since 2020, the organizers of Vinexpo America and Drinks America are finalizing a hard-hitting educational agenda exploring the biggest trends and challenges shaping the industry. Of particular focus will be the impact of the global pandemic on the beverage alcohol landscape, from transformational shifts in consumption to the expanding role of technology.
Spanning two full days of exhibits, educational programming, business meetings, tastings and networking at Manhattan’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, the joint trade-only expos will provide U.S. and Canadian buyers and decision makers with access to new and established brands looking to enter and expand in the North American market. To date, the growing list of exhibitors tops 300 from 24 countries on six continents.
A French pavilion organized by Business France has 62 exhibitors alone, among them Taste France—which is making its first trip to the U.S. The full-service intermediary was launched by the French government in 2020 to connect the French agri-food industry with buyers, importers, distributors and other decision makers across the globe. Japan, The Czech Republic, Spain, Chile, Brazil and the U.S. will also host pavilions on the exhibition floor.
While the full schedule of conferences and master classes will be available online as the show approaches, following are a few highlights:
· Understanding U.S. beverage alcohol trends and the drivers of future consumption. Brandy Rand, IWSR’s chief operating officer, Americas, will share insights on post-pandemic developments in the U.S. beverage alcohol market. Among the questions she’ll explore: What trends are making the most impact on what we buy, where we buy it and how we consume it? How are consumer sentiment and behavior evolving? What does this mean for the industry and future trends?
· Wine Spectator & Whisky Advocate present: Wine and spirits sales in a post-pandemic world. Executive editor Jeffery Lindenmuth will lead a panel discussion on a wine and spirits landscape permanently altered by COVID-19. Consumer conveniences like online ordering, home delivery, takeaway F&B and video tastings are likely here to stay, and the balance between off-premise, on-premise and producer retail is in constant flux. Representatives from these sectors will share how they have coped with the pandemic and what they see for the future.
· Finding and choosing import and distribution partners. Presented by Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University, this session will offer important insights for both new and established companies.
Also on the conference agenda are a session on the expanding role of technology in beverage alcohol and a session presented by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
· National Tax Agency of Japan will present a program exploring the world of Japanese alcohol including sake, shochu and beyond, introducing attendees to a variety of drinks, their characteristics and the best ways to enjoy their diverse flavors. The program will be led by Sake School of America’s Sara E. Guterbock, CBS, ISS, ASP, CS, CWE, DipWSET, JSA Sake Diploma, WSET Level 3 Sake Educator, International Kikisake-shi.
· The Alliance Les Crus Bourgeois du Médoc will introduce its 2020 Classification for the first time in the U.S. in a presentation and Q&A led by Mary Gorman, MW, and the alliance’s president, Franck Bijon.
· Leading oenologist and wine master Lorena Deaconu Stoian will guide attendees through a sampling of eight award-winning wines from Romania in “Discovering the hidden treasures of Romanian wines,” a presentation by The Iconic Estate, Member of Alexandrion Group.
In addition, Inter Rhône will present two master classes focusing respectively on wines of the Northern and Southern Rhône Valley, while famed glassmaker RIEDEL will present its seven-glass RIEDEL Winewings collection.
For information regarding COVID-19 protocols required by the City of New York and the Javits Convention Center, please reference the safety plan posted on the Vinexpo America and Drinks America websites.