Since its first publication in 1597, William Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet has inspired romantics the world over. Set in Verona, Italy, this story about two star-crossed lovers’ devotion to each other has such a universal appeal that even today, more than 400 years after it was printed, it still is considered by many as one of the best love stories ever to have been written.
The tale has also immortalized Verona, now a place where throngs of passionate couples and hopeless romantics troop to each year, hoping to “feel the love” in the beautiful medieval city. But there is a love story in Verona that is much older than Romeo and Juliet’s. It’s a legend born of an ancient practice involving the tender cultivation of grapevines, the gentle nurturing of their fruits by Italy’s fertile Mediterranean environment, and finally, the refined process of vinification that turns the berries into wine.
Indeed, as early as 2,800 years ago, wine was already being produced in Italy, which makes the country the oldest wine-making region in the world. And as one of Italy’s foremost wine regions, Verona serves host to Vinitaly, the world’s most important annual wine and spirits exposition. This blog post will serve as your ultimate guide to Vinitaly 2014.
What to expect this year
Since its inception in 1967, Vinitaly has held the reputation in Italy as the most important platform for the exhibition of domestic and international wines and spirits. Vinitaly 2013 featured 89,163 square meters of exhibition space and attracted more than 4,100 exhibitors and 148,000 visitors from 120 countries around the world.
This year’s affair is certainly no less grand, with Vinitaly’s organizers from Veronafiere hoping to mount what could be the biggest edition of the event yet. As of February 2014, the organizers have already sold more than 100,000 square meters of net exhibition space, the first in the event’s history.
Now on its 48th edition, Vinitaly is focusing on greater internationalization. For the first time, international exhibitors will be grouped together in a special hall, and a new area for business-to-business meetings has also been set up to encourage international operators to build relationships and alliances with one another. Vinitaly 2014 will also feature the debut of a special exhibition for producers of certified organic wines.
Where and when will it be held?
The event is slated to take place from April 6 to 9 at the Veronafiere Exhibition Center, located along Viale del Lavoro in Verona, Italy. The exhibition will run from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. for each of the scheduled day.
Single-day entrance tickets for visitors are available for €50 (€45 when bought online), while repeat entry tickets (4 entries, 1 entrance per day) are available for €90 (€80 online). Do take note that entrance is not allowed for those below 18 years of age, even if they are to be accompanied by adults. Animals, with the exception of guide dogs, are also prohibited from entering the exhibition.
You may call the Vinitaly helpline at +39 045 8298854 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to learn more about the event.
Vinitaly 2014: Exhibitions and special shows
- Vininternational – Among the main improvements this year is the setting up of the Vininternational Hall, which the organizers say will provide better impact and visibility for international exhibitors. The hall will serve as home to exhibitors from main producer countries like France, Spain, Australia, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Ukraine, New Zealand, and Azerbaijan. However, producers from the United States, Slovenia, and Russia will be still based in Halls 3, 6, and 12, respectively, as they did in previous editions of the event.
- International Buyers’ Lounge – Another new area is this year’s Vinitaly is the International Buyers’ Lounge. The area will aid in facilitating business-to-business meetings among wine tutelage associations, exhibiting traders, and international buyers. The lounge will also serve as special tasting area, where trade visitors can discover a selection of Italian wines. International buyers from markets like Brazil, Germany, China, northern Europe, Switzerland, Russia, and Taiwan will be able to meet the producers so that they can learn more about their products.
- Vinitaly Bio – This exhibition is being organized in cooperation with FederBio, Italy’s largest organization of farmers and operators involved in organic and biodynamic agriculture. This new special exhibition was born of the increasing market demand for organic wine in regions like northern Europe, North America, and Far East Asia. Tastings will be organized by producers and Federbio to introduce the products to foreign buyers. The wines to be featured in this exhibition are produced in accordance with EU standards for the production and labelling of organic wines.
- ViViT – Now on its third edition, ViViT is Vinitaly’s primary exhibition for region-specific winemakers. ViViT stands for “wines, winegrowers, and terroirs” and will showcase producers from around the world who desire to promote the individuality and character of wines produced exclusively in their areas.
- Guided tastings – Dozens of guided tasting events presented by local and international participants are scheduled during the four days of Vinitaly. These tasting events are among the main features of the yearly exhibition, and many guests wouldn’t trade them for all the tea in China.
One of the most awaited of these events is Taste Italy, which promotes red, white, and sparkling wines from the Italian wine regions. Now on its third year, Taste Italy will be presided over by “Doctor Wine” Daniele Cernilli, who will present his favorite labels to guests. Another tasting event is the Grappa & C. Tasting, which will feature various spirits like grappas, bitters, and liquors.
- Sol & Agrifood – This prestigious international exhibition of quality agro-foods is being held in the same venue as Vinitaly to concurrently promote outstanding olive oils, pasta, cured meats, cheese, honey, sauces, confectionery, coffee, and beer created by local and international producers. The exhibition boasts of a constellation of conventions, tasting events, and meetings that will allow players in the industry to gain knowledge about the evolution of trends and opportunities for growth in their respective sectors. As a plus, the catering service for this year’s event will be as outstanding as the products on display. The event restaurant, Bio Goloso, will showcase organic buffet and à la carte dishes created in collaboration with BioItalia.
- Enolitech – Vinitaly 2014 will also serve host to Enolitech, an exhibition for companies supplying machinery, equipment, and other technologies that help the wine and olive sectors become more productive and efficient. As in previous years, Enolitech is being held alongside Vinitaly and Sol & Agrifood to maximize the cooperation between the wine and olive producers and the technology and services providers.
The products and services to be featured include: vine and olive nursery technologies, growing equipment, harvesting machines, production equipment, bottling and packaging supplies, packing and transportation equipment, and accessories for wine cellars and oil mills.
- Opera Wine – This grand tasting event for the finest Italian wines from 100 eminent producers will take place at the Palazzo della Gran Guardia between 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm on April 5, the eve of the opening of Vinitaly 2014. However, entrance to the event is open only to buyers, journalists, and industry opinion makers who have been invited by the wine producers and event organizers.
Additional tips for visitors
- Take the bus to Veronafiere – You wouldn’t want to get caught in the bad traffic around the Veronafiere exhibition center. It’s ground zero for thousands of people who are expected to descend in this venue as they do every year. Save time and avoid a big headache by taking the bus instead of coming in a car which you would still have to park. As in previous years, the organizers will also likely operate shuttle services from the city center to Veronafiere, so that’s another option for you, just in case.
- Vinitaly apps are ready for download – The Vinitaly 2014 app promises to be your “highly personalized guide” to the event. Some of the things you can do with the app include the following: view the event map; browse stands filtered by regions, nations, and pavilions; obtain information about products; check events, conferences, and tasting events by time and date; create digital business cards that you can share with exhibitors and visitors; and find available parking space. That last item on the list might help if ever you decide to go to Veronafiere in a car anyway.
- Explore and have fun! – With hundreds of wineries showcasing their wares, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by this enormous exhibition. Planning ahead, however, will help you make the most of your visit. Do you have particular products or wineries in mind? Are you planning to try as many new labels as you can, or do you intend to get a swig of your favorite expensive wine first? These things matter, so a little bit of research and planning would definitely go a long way.
As there’s just so many pavilions to visit, try to spend more than one day at the exhibition, or if you can manage it, just go to all four days of the event. Make an effort to explore as much as you can because there are loads of fantastic regional and international wines to go around. And don’t forget to ask the sommeliers if they’ve got some older vintages available. Great rewards come to those who ask for them!
Whether you’re a first timer or a seasoned veteran of the Vinitaly, be prepared for whatever great surprises the expo may hold. If one really loves one’s beverage, this could very well turn out to be the best four days of the year. After all, this love story between humankind and his wine is a tale as old as time.