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The Big Takeaways from ProWein 2024

The Big Takeaways from ProWein 2024

Earlier this month, ProWein 2024 marked its 30th anniversary in Düsseldorf, Germany, by showcasing emerging trends and innovations in wine and spirits, renewing a fresh sense of optimism amid market challenges. Over three intense trade fair days, ProWein presented wines from 5,400 exhibitors representing 65 nations, attracting 47,000 registered trade visitors from 136 countries across 17 expansive halls. 

Emerging markets such as Spain, Portugal and South America were especially well represented and enjoyed attention from specialty retailers and international buyers. Director Peter Schmitz highlighted this international representation as key to ProWein’s success, noting that “no other trade fair offers as wide a range as ProWein. All wine-growing regions are represented in Düsseldorf.” 

Here are things that I’ll remember most about this year’s event. 

Image Courtesy of Messe Düsseldorf / ctillmann

Introducing ProSpirits 

This year’s ProWein introduced ProSpirits, a concept well-received by attendees. This new addition highlighted the latest trends and innovations in the spirits segment, with 420 exhibitors from 40 countries.

From vodka to agave spirits, the ProSpirits Forum offered masterclasses and tastings, including a TrendHour seminar with spirits guru Jürgen Deibel. 

Continued Demand in the No and Low-Alcohol Sector 

Enthusiasts of low and non-alcoholic beverages flocked to Hall 1 for the inaugural ProWein Zero, which was warmly embraced by vintners from Germany, France, Italy, Spain and other emerging markets.

The hall boasted a diverse array of offerings ranging from Nordic gastro-inspired non-alcoholic wines to Dr. Jaglas’s acclaimed non-alcoholic limoncello, lauded by the esteemed French restaurant guide Gault & Millau. 

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Artificial Intelligence Finds a Place in Wine  

Traditionally, wine has been recognized as a hands-on agricultural product, managed through interpersonal interactions throughout the production and service process. However, several breakout sessions on A.I. addressed how technology can reshape the landscape. 

Cathy Huyghe explored the potential for artificial intelligence, highlighting opportunities for automation and optimization, while Big Hammer Wines introduced an A.I. sommelier engine designed to provide personalized wine recommendations.

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Weincampus DLR Neustadt, in partnership with the Fraunhofer Institute Integrated Circuits, presented A.I.-generated tasting notes based on a wine’s chemical analysis. Moving away from wine, Katlenburger Winery introduced the first fully A.I.-developed RTD cocktails and package design. The general sentiment? As scary as A.I. might seem, maybe it does have a place in wine. 

showcasing wine pouring at Prowein 2024
Image Courtesy of Messe Düsseldorf / ctillmann

Focus on White Wine Production 

Wineries worldwide continue to adjust their production strategies to accommodate the rising demand for white wines among consumers. A wide range of varietals and offerings, from crisp Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon to elegant Chardonnay and even Viognier, were widely available amongst the halls.  

In markets predominantly known for red wine production, such as Spain, the Rhône Valley and Argentina, white wine is clearly an area of focus. “White wine currently represents 5% of our total production,” states sales and marketing director Julio Lasmartres of Achaval Ferrer. “We anticipate this growing upward towards 20% over the next few years.” 

You May Also Like: The Best White Wines of 2023

However, regions abundant in white wine production are encountering their own set of challenges. Istria, a peninsula in the Adriatic Sea shared by Croatia, Slovenia and Italy, is renowned for its outstanding expressions of the white grape Malvazija Istarska, which comprises 55% of total production. However, producers are struggling to make the consumer case for premium examples, which are often linked with higher price tags. As a result, these wines are often a tough sell for the next generation of wine consumers.  

Dr. Caroline Gilby MW’s Malvazija masterclass underscored the importance of complexity in these wines, particularly when paired with diverse cuisines. Her class emphasized the variety of styles throughout the region, highlighting their cellar-worthy potential. 

ProWein 2024 California booth
Image Courtesy of Messe Düsseldorf / ctillmann

Taking a Trip

There’s was an emphasis on travel—specifically agrotourism—which brands hope will translate to long-lasting impressions and customer loyalty across age demographics. Giulia Cecchi of Famiglia Cecchi in Tuscany emphasized their dedication to crafting wine experiences, ranging from historical tours to vintage tastings and even astrology-themed nights under the stars, all complete with wine pairings. 

Also of note, Alessandro Medici of Medici Ermete framed his family’s historical production of Lambrusco in the Emilia-Romagna region as an introduction to the broader region. Through three immersive experiences, Medici Ermete guests are invited to explore everything from the vineyards to specialized chef-inspired food pairings. Other aspects of the region are also integrated, including the history of Ferrari, pasta and aged balsamic vinegar. The big takeaway? Wine is an integral part of a bigger tourism picture, and such positioning only bolsters wine’s essential role within that bigger picture. 

Next year’s ProWein in Düsseldorf, Germany is scheduled for March 16 to 18, 2025. Stay tuned for more details.  

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