Vinitaly International 2012: A Special Focus on the U.S. and Chinese Markets

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In 2011, the Italian wine industry continued to lead the Agri-Food sector abroad, with exports accounting for over 4 billion euros. In total, more than 10 billion euros of turnover and an increase of 13% in exports since 2010. Despite the crisis, the Italian wine industry continues to do the lion's share of driving the country’s agricultural sector and confirmed its leading position in foreign markets with a market share of 22%.

This year’s U.S. panel is entitled: “What Italian Producers Need to Do to Sell More Wine in the US”. It will be moderated by Sergio Esposito, CEO, Italian Wine Merchants accompanied by leading American experts in their respective fields.

Vinitaly, the “Ambassador of Italian Wine”, will be holding its 2012 edition on new dates this year, from Sunday, March 25 to Wednesday, March 28, reflecting a strategic change to give greater space to business. With the recent surge in interest for wine in markets such as Russia, China and the United States (which imports the majority of its wines from Italy), Vinitaly created the Vinitaly Tour ( a few years ago to help Italian producers reach those large markets and promote the excellence of Italian wine abroad. This “think global, act local” strategy, comprises of tour stops in cities such as New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Moscow and Hong Kong, where Vinitaly has developed a partnership with HKTDC’s International Wine & Spirits Fair, Asia’s biggest wine fair. This offers Italian producers direct access to global trade, consumer clients and a stepping-stone to these much sought after markets.

According to the Italian Trade Commission, Italy remains the number-one exporter of wine to the U.S., with a market share of 31% valued at nearly $1.5 billion in 2011. Italian wines’ U.S. shipment volume increased 15% to 31.66 million cases. Prosecco alone, topped 1 million cases leading with a 36% volume increase to 3.24 million cases for all Italian sparkling wines. Among imported still wines, the Italian Trade Commission said Italy’s U.S. market share is now 34% by value, ahead of second-ranked France at 19% and third-ranked Australia at 13%.

It is in China, however that Italy has seen the greatest increase in wine exports, which have practically doubled with a +80% (source: Coldiretti). In Hong Kong, which is used as a port of entry to China for many imported wines (no definitive figures are available but it is estimated that up to 40% of wine is re-exported to China), the value of Italian wine imports, according to data provided by the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council, has more than doubled in 2 years from 12 million USD in 2009 to 28 million

USD in 2011. The percentage change increase for Italy alone has gone from 19.8% in 2009 to 61.5% in 2011. Most promisingly for the Italian wine trade, following the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair in November 2011, where Vinitaly was the partner country, imports of Italian wine for January 2012, increased by 57.2%, by comparison, France in the same period, decreased by 35.7%. Italy has the highest positive percentage change in the top 10 importing countries.

As in the past couple of years, Vinitaly International will be holding panels on the U.S. and Chinese Markets during Vinitaly for Italian wineries that are heavily dependent on local sales. Vinitaly in the World can assist Italian wine producers with its expertise on the international level to connect with important actors in the wine business.

This year’s U.S. panel is entitled: “What Italian Producers Need to Do to Sell More Wine in the US”. It will be moderated by Sergio Esposito, CEO, Italian Wine Merchants accompanied by leading American experts in their respective fields, such as: Rodolphe Boulanger, Imported Wine Director, Lot 18, David Francke, Managing Director, Folio Fine Wine Imports, Lars Leicht, Vice President of Communications, Banfi Vintners, Giuseppe LoCascio, Brand Manager, Italian Wines, Winebow Inc., and Alison Napjus, Senior Tasting Coordinator, Wine Spectator. Topics of discussion will focus on the U.S. market’s general overview, sales channels and marketing and communication strategies with questions such as Quality vs. Value: How is the market doing at value price points vs. premium/super-premium and collectible wines? What is the impact of Internet sales? Will Internet sales ever be a major percentage of total wine sales? In the era of social media, are scores still as important as ever for selling wines? How do you market to Millennials?

The Greater China Panel, “Demystifying Greater China” which will be held at Vinitaly will feature guest speaker, Debra Meiburg, Master of Wine. As one of Asia’s first Masters of Wine Debra will share her expertise on the market everyone is talking about. Drawing from research published in the brand new Debra Meiburg’s Guide to the Hong Kong Wine Trade, which outlines consumer dynamics, key cultural considerations and purchasing behaviors unique to Greater China, with a particular emphasis on Hong Kong. For those Italian wineries hoping to enter the market, this instructive session will arm them with all they need to know about distribution channels, market entry and leadership opportunities.

Russia, United States, China and Japan, the “Vinitaly Tour” looks to the future, not just as the number one promoter of Italian wines worldwide but moreover as a business and training tool for Italian wineries globally. "Vinitaly Tour" is striving to become an instrument of permanent education and promotion for Italian wine, an organization to liaise Italian companies with business circles and customers in new foreign markets. Vinitaly’s role as the ambassador of Italian wine in the world, becomes more significant. Structural changes in the current market, such as the decline in domestic wine consumption in Italy, makes external markets more attractive, in particular

Vinitaly International is the engine that drives the “Tour” and brings the Italian wine affair back home to Verona where the world will converge at OperaWine on March 24th, 2012 and Vinitaly ( March 25th -28th) to fall in love with Italian wine.

Vinitaly is the largest wine fair in the world with over 4,500 producers and 150,000+ visitors (including 45,000 from foreign countries). The event is held every year in Verona, Italy (46th edition: Verona 25-28 March 2012).

OperaWine ( is discovering the traditions, identity and heritage of the food and art in Italy, whilst falling in love with Italian wines. Exclusive initiatives related to Italian wine, food and culture is to encourage international operators, journalists, sommeliers, wine educators, and high profile wine aficionados alike to explore the fascinating history and context of Italian wine production.

OperaWine would like to thank its sponsors Air Dolomiti, Asiago, Bormioli, Ferrarelle and Levoni.

For further information, please contact:
tel: +39 045 8101447

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