ProWein: Ground for Optimism or Pessimism?

Today is the last day of ProWein, the world’s largest wine fair. It takes place in the capital of trade fairs, Dusseldorff in Germany.  I was a ProWein virgin when I arrived on Saturday and the size and extent of the fair has taken me aback. Portugal is in Hall 10 (alongside Spain) and this alone would be large enough to contain a sizable national trade fair. There are eight more similarly sized halls housing the world of wine. I admit to not particularly liking large generic tastings and fairs as I much prefer a more focused event. At ProWein there are 5,700 exhibitors from 50 countries (including England I am glad to say) chasing an estimated 40,000 visitors. Imagine how difficult it is for a small Portuguese producer to create some sort of ‘noise’ at an event like this. And we are not alone. I walk past stand after stand with producers twiddling their thumbs, just waiting for custom or talking to each other to pass the time. ProWein is not a particularly good place to taste but it is a good place to meet people provided you have done the groundwork before hand. I find that we haven’t done enough and apart from some useful meetings with existing customers in Holland and Switzerland the three days were, I think, an expensive waste of time. Others must have come to a similar conclusion for Portugal seemed to be largely talking to itself. Last night at a reception the Executive Director of the fair, Micheal Degan, called ProWein ‘a greenhouse for optimism’. But with so many producers, large and small, from different parts of the world all ultimately seeking mouths for their wine, the whole event left me feeling rather pessimistic about the global wine trade. There are just too many of us I am afraid.