Sunday, April 21, 2024

Vinitaly 2024 – What went down (and what’s going up)

Luca Zaia (L) President of the Veneto Region
It’s been a few days since Vinitaly 2024 ended. Here are some random thoughts about the Italian wine trade show that is held for four days in April in Verona.

First off, those with a stake in such things will declare “The 2024 Vinitaly was the best ever!” and they will back it up with formulated statistics that claim “attendance was up 4% from the previous year!” And that will be true. From 93,000 people in 2023 to 97,000 in 2024 were estimated to have attended. Now it doesn’t necessarily mean they break down the attendance if the same person attended all four days and was counted as one. Possibly, the persons who entered through the turnstiles daily were aggregated individually.

However – exhibitors – folks who paid to show their products, went in 2023 from 4,500 to 4,300 in 2024, which would mean a slight decrease of 4% from the previous year.

As far as exhibitors (wineries, importers, people who had exhibition rooms/space), the high-point year was 2019, when 4,600 exhibitors attended. Not all that different from 2023.

Foreign attendance was up from 2023 in 2024 (30,070 vs. 29,600) but nowhere near the halcyon years of 2014-2016, when 55,000 foreign attendees were recorded.

my random numbers over the years

Compare 1991 attendance numbers, 80,000, with more recent 2022, 88,000. Definitely an impact from the pandemic. There was no Vinitaly in 2020, and the special edition held in 2021 (October 17-19) was more of a (premature) celebration than a trade show. There was some limited B2B activity as well. But it couldn’t really be manifested as a traditional Vinitaly.

From the numbers I have tracked since 1991, the high-point of attendance was in 2014 and 2015, when 150,000 people were said to have attended.

But 150,000 versus 97,000 is a bit of a different story. That’s a 35% decrease. I’m sure Covid and the worldwide pandemic played into these figures, as well as global instability with regards to war and peace.

Inflation, higher prices and the change to a more virtual meeting environment also helped to erode those numbers. Also, spin off shows, from nearby Summa to VinNatur, helped to eat away at the Vinitaly numbers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it does spread out the folks who have particular interests that these shows focus on and address more acutely.

That said, folks who reported back to me said Vinitaly 2024, for them, was one of the best they had ever been to – and this from seasoned Vinitaly-goers.

A word about trade shows: It isn’t just the wine world that is seeing a downturn in trade show participation. The watch world (which I also track) and other large industries are pivoting from the expense-bloated showcases in favor of more virtual gatherings. Economics plays into this, as well as logistics. But during Covid the world learned that they could get much of the information they needed from a screen. Now, it is impossible to taste wine virtually, but the world trend is people drinking less alcohol also plays into this decrease in actual physical involvement.

My first Vinitaly was 40 years ago, and it opened a world unto me that I didn’t know of. Imagine everyone who is involved in the Italian wine industry, which I adored then, under one roof (or in the case of Vinitaly, many roofs). It was a dream. It still is for many people, old and new. The energy of thousands of souls rowing together is a fantastic feeling. As well, to see people in one place without having to drive all over Italy is a boon to the time-deprived sommelier, wholesaler, p.r. person, retailer or importer. Read my lips: Vinitaly is good.

Well, most of it is. There is still some underlying corruption and mysterious allocating of European funds with regards to Vinitaly and Veronafiere that are winding their way around the courts in Italy




But that’s for the judges and courts to deliberate upon. Eventually the corrupt elements that hover around Vinitaly will be exposed and prosecuted, hopefully. There’s a lot of money in and around Italian wine and it doesn’t just attract the wine lovers and enthusiasts. Unfortunately, it also draws the con men (and women) to their juicy nectars as well. But, as one Italy watcher noted, “The powers that be hate scrutiny and embarrassment.” Indeed. 

That said, ultimately what propels Italian wine is greater market share and increases in sales. And while we’ve all been through the Covid hiccup, that seems to be rebounding for Italian wine. It still is a value, and a quality wine. People feel comfort in Italian food and the wine accompanies those emotions. So, we’re in for a good run in the future for Italian wine, this I am certain of. Now, we all just need to do our part. And it starts with opening up some bottles and proceeding.


wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
Real Time Analytics