Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Why this might be our last Vinitaly in Verona: A Dear Giovanni letter to Veronafiere

Dear Veronafiere,

We have been coming to Verona and Vinitaly since 1967. We have watched it expand over the years and have endured the labor pains of growth along with many other long persevering Italians, as well as people from around the world. But we are seriously considering not coming back to Vinitaly in Verona.

1) The first day of the fair, Sunday, has become a drunken party for people who have nothing to do with the wine industry. Booths in the Veneto, Trentino/Alto-Adige and Lombardia halls are impossible to navigate with the throngs of people looking to fill their glasses. No spitting, along with with sloppy drunks in abundance. It is impossible to get any business done in those areas on a Sunday.

2) The parking scene is still a joke. Tonight we collectively sat in our cars in the parking lot across the street from Veronafiere, with hundreds of vehicles trying to leave and with only one exit. Two hours later we finally got out. Late for our evening appointments, again. Really, how hard is it to get some light rail to go from Veronafiere to other areas around Verona to ease the congestion? Or open two more exits? We’ve only been talking about this for 20 years!

3) What is with all the people hanging around the outside of the halls, blocking the doors, and smoking? This is supposed to be a trade show, not a place to light up while waiting for a hooker. And the people who hang on the doors, and then get irritated because one wants to open them to go to another hall? Who is policing the area? No one, that’s who.

4) The bathrooms are still, in large part, a disaster. They stink, the floors are urine soaked, and women still don’t have enough stalls that they have to invade the men’s room. How degrading is that to women (and men) who just need to take a pee? This is disgusting.

5) You have still not managed to keep some of the halls properly ventilated. How hard is it to put in LED lighting that won’t heat the place up, along with opening windows and preventing the rooms from getting stifling hot?

6) Once again, communications within the halls via cell phone, text, messaging and internet, all the different ways we use to communicate in this connected era, these are not possible at Vinitaly. Texts arrive hours later; many of us miss critical communication in order to meet up or change meeting places. Phone calls endlessly are dropped. And trying to access the internet to check on information about a winery or access an app, this is still a huge challenge within the halls of Veronafiere. How can we move our business forward if we cannot use the tools that are essential in today’s world? This is an ongoing scandal and one in which the leadership at Veronafiere have failed, once again, to address.

7) Three wineries, friends of ours, had their booths vandalized and wine stolen? How many more that we don’t know about? Was that a coincidence? Or lack of security. #ThisMustStop.

Do you want more? We spend our hard-earned money trying to promote the wines of Italy. And Verona and Veronafiere has let us down. We are tired of fighting the selfie-obsessed drunken crowds, the foul toilets, the dank halls and what appears to be incompetence of the highest degree of the management of Veronafiere. We would welcome a change; whether to Milan or even to not come at all. At this point maybe time spent (and money) would be better put to use in visiting the wine suppliers in their well-lit, fresh air, clean water and crowd-free, smoke-free environments. The infrastructure of Veronafiere and Vinitaly appears to have finally crumbled. Really Veronafiere, someone needs to clean the house out of all the inept leadership or risk losing the attention of hundreds of thousands of folks who just want to make the world safer for Italian wine. Where is Luca Zaia when we need him?

We love Italy and we love the wine community of Italy. We have many friends of Italian wine business and for many years. We all want a solution more than we want to complain about it, we really do. But Veronafiere, and Vinitaly by association, you have not proven to be capable of finding sustainable solutions. We’re considering to #BoycottVinitaly2016, the 50th anniversary of a show that had good original intentions. But, it appears it doesn't have the will, the vision, and the leadership necessary, to take it to another 50 years.


The Italian wine industry

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