London Wine Fair exceeds expectations

The organisers of the London Wine Fair have reported on the 39th show which took place this week.  Pre-show expectations were of a decrease in numbers as a result of the strategy to focus on delivering a high-quality audience; part of this was implementing a charge for some sections of the trade for the first time. 13,260 (total net) visitors attended this year, compared to 14,250 in 2018 and 12,179 in 2017. This indicates a 7% decrease on last year, but a 9% increase on the 2017.  Monday was the busiest day, with 6,165 through the door.

This year’s exhibitor numbers were up on last year:  516 took part, an increase of 11% on 018.  These include leading importers returning to the show:  Enotria&Coe; Buckingham Schenk; C&C Wines and Felix Solis Avantis.

In terms of visitor to exhibitor ratio, which is a valuable measure for exhibitors, the London Wine Fair delivered by far the strongest ratio compared to other key exhibitions.  The London Wine Fair delivered a ratio of 26 visitors to each exhibitor (13,260 : 516), compared to ProWein 2019 of 9 visitors per exhibitor (61,500 : 7,000) and last week’s Vinexpo of 20 visitors per exhibitor (40,000 : 2,000).

Head of Fair, Hannah Tovey commented: “2019 was all about attracting a high-quality audience which built on last year’s strategy of delivering on higher numbers of visitors and a refreshed show.  Our massive visitor increase last year (17% up on 2017) meant that we could more than withstand a fall in numbers this year.  Implementing the charging strategy for some visitors also meant we expected a slight drop this year, something which our exhibitors were on board with.  All the exhibitors I have spoken to over the last three days have sighted a better quality of visitor at their stand, with a smaller audience actually being better for doing meaningful business.

“We feel that the show is in an extremely healthy position in the lead up to next year’s 40th anniversary.  2020 will be all about delivering a very special edition of the London Wine Fair; the anniversary will be a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the very best of the U.K. drinks industry and we very much look forward to sharing our plans over the coming months.”

The 2020 London Wine Fair will take place at Olympia from 18th to 20th May.

Feedback from exhibitors and visitors


“We’ve been running masterclasses for 12 different premium producers on our stand. The uptake has been amazing. We’ve had between 300-400 people applying for each of the masterclasses that we’ve done. There have been people queuing off the stand. It’s been a really good cross-section of premium to mid-level on-trade and off-trade. An amazing selection of customers. We’re really delighted with how it has gone.”

Jon Pepper MW, Chief Operating Officer, Enotria&Coe

“LWF 2019 was a huge success for Enotria&Coe. Our masterclass programme was a hit, and the content so well received. This is testament to our fantastic portfolio, the talented line-up of presenters and producers, and proves that the UK trade is as engaged and excited by premium wine as we are!”

Valerie Lewis, Director of Marketing, Enotria&Coe

“Well done Hannah and the team at LWF team. Another great Fair and the calibre of visitors this year was really good, with a genuine thirst for learning about wine and quality. For us at Carson Carnevale, the Masterclasses were so well received and attended, and we have made many new friends and customers! The Wine World is moving on and so too has the LWF! We’ve booked 2020 already!

Christopher Carson, Managing Director, C&C Wines

“I think the most important thing was the ease of getting to the people I wanted to see.  I love the upstairs Esoterica section showcasing amazing wines.  Yesterday I bought 20 new wines.  I don’t often buy at shows, but I have bought for the first time from five or six producers.  Also, on the main floor, I’ve seen agents like New Generation and Seckford, with their new wines.  I think The Fair is amazing.  In one day, I can do so much more than I can do normally.  It’s about evolving the list and getting up to date on trends.”

Roger Jones, owner, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn

“Overall we found the fair very busy and productive.  We believe that the decision to charge for entry was the correct choice in order to reduce the amount of non-wine industry related visitors to the fair.  Our impression was, whilst numbers felt a little lower than last year, that the per-capita quality of the visitors was vastly improved.  Well done Team LWF!”

Charles Simpson, co-owner, Simpsons Wine Estates 

“We were thrilled with the Greek wine masterclass, which was a packed event full of industry professionals with some people standing.  We had people there able to discover a different face of Greece, with so many interesting grapes and unexpected wines.  Nine years ago, I came to the U.K. from Greece to attend the London Wine Fair and ended up staying; it is a good feeling to come back today to present a masterclass on Greek wines.”

Terry Kandylis, Head Sommelier, 67 Pall Mall

“The sheer variety of educational opportunities is fantastic.  There is a really vibrant feel which I always love; catching up with suppliers and finding new wines.”

Anne McHale MW, Independent Wine Consultant

“The London Wine Fair is the best event we do all year. We have doubled our investment this year and have been able to show a fuller range of wines. We have seen merchants from Scotland to the South Coast and even Europe.  We have seen around 40 existing customers and seen another 10 to 15 strong leads. This is the most cost-effective way for us to sell.”

James Leary, Antipodean Sommelier

“I have seen many interesting buyers and sommeliers – more sommeliers than usual. I always enjoy coming to the London Wine Fair and speaking directly to U.K. customers and buyers.  It gives great insight into the U.K. market.”

Siegfried Pic, Export Director, Louis Jadot

“I felt like the numbers were down but that the quality was up.  Our members who spoke to us at the show were very happy.”

Miles Beale, Chief Executive, WSTA

“I think that in all the doom and gloom around wine fairs, the London Wine Fair was really good.  A lot of business was done there.  I am really looking forward to next years’ 40th anniversary show.”

Simon Jerome, Head of Wine Procurement, Matthew Clark 

“It’s been the best London Wine Fair ever.  The right people were there.”

Nik Darlington, Managing Director, Red Squirrel 

The Fair has been great for us this year.  The stand has been consistently busy with very professional attendees who were genuinely interested in our wines.  The key objective for us this year was to get the wines in front of serious buyers, and we feel we have achieved this.  We will be back next year, with an even bigger presence!

Irakli Cholobargia, Head of Marketing, National Wine Agency of Georgia