Barossa Grape & Wine Association (BGWA) joined Wine Australia and wine regions from the continent and right across the world at Vinexpo New York on March 5 and 6, 2018 at the Jacob K Javits Convention Centre in the city.
BGWA CEO James March attended the event to represent the growing interest in Barossa wines outside Australia. Vinexpo attracted over 500 vintners from over 23 countries and nearly 3,500 American importers, distributors, retailers and journalists, according to Wine Spectator.
Overall, Mr March reported a feeling of buoyancy at the event; optimism for the wine industry and good things to come. The United States (US) is the world’s top consumer of wine and therefore a key focus for many wine producers in Australia.
Vinexpo, which returned to New York after a 16-year hiatus, was an opportunity for Mr March to develop and strengthen relationships amongst the industry in the US, not only for Barossa wines and the region, but for the Barossa Wine Auction as well, which aims to increase its presence in the US, especially via its online bidding portal.
The trip to the prestigious, two-day wine event also highlighted the importance of reaching millennials, especially via digital means. Surveys show that this generation are willing to spend more on imported wine, solidifying the significance of distributing news from the Australian wine industry via online platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, websites and blogs.
Another issue that is driving purchasing decisions worldwide is the subject of place names accurately described on wine bottles. The conversation around protecting wine region place names has never been louder, with 94% of American wine drinkers supporting laws that would protect consumers from misleading wine labels.
As a member of Wine Origins Alliance, Mr March travelled to Washington after Vinexpo to lobby for tougher laws around wine labelling. He also attended a press conference at Vinexpo that announced the campaign ‘Location Matters,’ which is the catch-call of the issue, which demands for a wine’s true origin to be clearly identified on its label to ‘protect the sanctity of wine growing regions worldwide’. The crux of the issue being that there aren’t enough laws in America to stop wineries mislabelling a specific wine, for example Champagne that isn’t made in Champagne, but in California instead.
While labelling in Australia is well-regulated, in fact Australia is a leader in labelling laws, Mr March is joining the global conversation to continue to strengthen relationships with wine regions across the globe and share his own experiences of the burgeoning trust between consumers and winemakers because of these label regulations.
In Barossa, Mr March rallies for the celebration and ongoing acknowledgement of place in the winemaking process. BGWA introduced in 2017 a Seal of Provenance for all wines entered in the Barossa Wine Auction.
This was in response to a growing demand from bidders and auction houses to authenticate wines as coming direct from the cellars of a winemaker, a key point of difference for the Barossa Wine Auction.
Crowds at Vinexpo could visit booths, and attend themed tastings and seminars covering a wide variety of aspects of the global wine industry.
By attending the event alongside key Barossa wineries including Torbreck, Hentley Farm, Yalumba and Chateau Tanunda, Mr March was working to raise the profile of wines from the region and communicate to the world the exciting variety and evolution of wine styles that are being produced there, as well as Barossa’s old vine heritage.
The excitement for Barossa Grenache, Eden Valley Riesling and other varieties was echoed at the American Guild of Sommelier Barossa Masterclasses Mr March co-hosted while he was in the US.
American sommeliers enjoyed the range of winemaking stories coming out of the region; quality, heritage and contemporary style being points of authenticity that they could relay to clients at pour. This is echoed in the rise of wine experiences being included as bidding items in the Barossa Wine Auction.
Mr March will travel to Vinexpo Hong Kong on 29 – 31 May, 2018 to continue to share the news of Barossa wine.