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What’s on Tap at ProWein 2024

What’s on Tap at ProWein 2024

This year’s ProWein, set to take place March 10th through 12th in Düsseldorf, Germany, will mark the influential trade fair’s 30th year. Upwards of 50,000 wine and spirits professionals from across the globe are expected to attend alongside about 5,700 exhibitors from over 60 countries.

What can attendees anticipate? We spoke with ProWein director Peter Schmitz to find out.

Wine Enthusiast: It’s been an eventful year in the drinks business. Will this be reflected in the main themes at ProWein 2024?

Peter Schmitz: One of the secrets of ProWein’s success—in addition to its consistent focus on trade visitors—is the way it looks to the future and proactively develops market-driven formats. As a partner for the wine and spirits industry, ProWein picks up on the requirements of the market year after year and develops solutions and new approaches—such as the premiere of the special show on the topic of “no-and-low” at the last ProWein. ProWein 2023 was the first trade fair in Europe to provide this current industry trend with a dedicated stage. This year, we continue from this premiere: With the motto “ProWein Zero,” everything will revolve around “no-and-low” in a special area in Hall 1—supported by a dedicated tasting zone also in Hall 1.

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In addition, our long-standing trend scouts Stuart Pigott and Paula Redes Sidore have once again identified current trends in the wine industry. The first one is “PiWi Take Off”—fungus-resistant grape varieties have been around for around 20 years, but only now do they seem to be on the verge of a breakthrough. Second: “The Arrival of Robotics at the Vineyard.” Harvesting machines have been rolling through the vineyards since the early 1970s. But the real breakthrough only seems to be imminent now, as the technology can not only reduce cultivation costs, but also tackle the problem of labor shortages.

Finally, the third topic is “The Great Drought in the Vineyard.” What solutions are there for water shortages at vineyards? A central question for the entire wine industry. In the “Trend Hour Tastings” on ProWein Sunday and Monday visitors can find out about these trends firsthand at a moderated tasting.

WE: What’s changed in the wine space since last year?

PS: In many regions and countries, we are seeing a decline in wine consumption. However, there is a growing demand for spirits and we have responded to this. This year, a new feature at ProWein will celebrate its premiere: ProSpirits, the brand world for spirits. In Hall 5, everything revolves around spirits—the market segment with great potential. About 500 exhibitors from more than 40 countries will present their products in an area of around 4,800 square meters; that’s 1,000 square meters more space for spirits than at the last ProWein.

Spirits professionals from all over the world can expect separate areas for product groups such as whiskey, Cognac and brandies and country participation from Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Korea, Mexico and the U.K. The ProSpirits Forum with masterclasses will complement the program.

In addition, we have the trend show “same but different,” close to the ProSpirits section. The trend show for craft drinks was launched nine years ago specifically for the target group of the hip, urban bar community. It has been an indispensable component of ProWein and the event for the scene from the star. At ProWein 2024, visitors can expect 1,100 square meters of exhibition space with around 120 exhibitors from 27 countries.

WE: Will there be any new or unexpected faces at ProWein this year? What’s the significance of their attendance?

PS: A lot is happening in the area of sustainability. For many years, thanks to internationally active associations and initiatives such as Bioland, Demeter, Ecovin, Fair’n Green, Respekt Biodyn, Vignerons de Nature and our special Organic World show, this has been one of the major themes at ProWein.

This year, two leading international NGOs will be presenting themselves in Düsseldorf. The “International Wineries for Climate Action” (IWCA) will be there for the first time. IWCA is an association of around 50 wine producers and 139 winegrowers from all over the world. The central goal of the NGO, which was founded in 2019, is to reduce carbon emissions and develop a global standard for decarbonization. The “Sustainable Wine Roundtable” (SWR) will be represented at ProWein for the second time. Founded two years ago, SWR now has more than 70 members from all over the world, covering the entire value chain from production to distribution and trade to logistics and research—and thus representing the unique selling point of this NGO. The Masters of Wine [have] also organized a masterclass specifically on the topic of sustainability.

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Another topic will be A.I. On the one hand, artificial intelligence and robotics have the potential to revolutionize the wine industry, from the soil to sales and recycling. On the other hand, the technology and power of A.I. and robotics seem to run counter to the earthbound ecology of wine. Cathy Huyghe, CEO and co-founder of the U.S.-based analytics platform Enolytics, will address this topic in a panel. The DLR Neustadt Wine Campus and the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS) are also developing a joint project on how A.I.-supported analysis of wine aromas can close the gap between sensory perception and chemical analysis.

WE: The pandemic made gathering hard for many years. Is attendance back to pre-Covid levels yet?

PS: As far as the pure figures are concerned, certainly not. But ultimately that’s not our goal. We look more at what’s inside ProWein—what makes it special. The industry comes to Düsseldorf because all professionals know that they will find a unique and almost complete range of products here. The same applies to the number of visitors. It’s not about having lots of people in the halls. It has to be the opinion leaders and decision-makers.

WE: What do you hope attendees take away from this year’s ProWein?

PS: The challenges facing the international wine industry are immense. We see this again in the results of the new ProWein Business Report, the annual industry barometer that Geisenheim University compiles for us every year. I would be delighted if we could give everyone in the wine and spirits sector the courage and confidence to continue pursuing their business with such passion.

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