The Italian Almanac
The 44th edition of Vinitaly, the world's biggest international wine trade fair, closed its doors after setting new records which appeared to indicate that the sector has firmly pulled out of recession. A 4.4% increase in foreign exhibitors from 110 countries pushed the total to some 47,000 and drew in 152,000 producers, importers, distributors, caterers, restaurant operators, sector experts, opinion leaders and over 2,500 accredited journalists from over 50 countries.
Aside from the record number of visitors and exhibitors, this year's edition also stood out for the arrival of President Giorgio Napolitano, the first Italian head of state to ever visit Vinitaly. During his tour of the Verona trade fair complex, where the annual event is staged, Napolitano said "I did not come here to make speeches but to do a little tasting and bring you my best wishes. I also came to congratulate you all for the wealth and culture you have created, because wine is culture. By doing this you have helped to make Italy great and together we can work to see our country grow".
For the third year in a row quality foods were available at Vinitaly through the Agrifood Club, which promoted the best Italian food products and showed visitors the many ways it can be prepared and served. Food was also available at the various stands and restaurants including the Designer Restaurants, with food prepared by leading Italian chefs; the Citadel of Gastronomy, dedicated to regional cuisines using quality ingredients; and the Sol Goloso Restaurant which will also offer cooking workshops using the best olive oils.
"My greatest satisfaction was seeing confidence return to the faces of exhibitors, thanks also to the teamwork we at Vinitaly provided," said Ettore Riello, chairman of the Veronafiera trade fair agency which organised the event. Vinitaly is owned and operated by the FieraVerona trade fair agency and traces its roots back to the September 1967 Italian Wine Days convention held in Verona's Palazzo della Grand Guardia.
In 1969 winemakers began to exhibit their products at the convention which two years later was re-baptised Vinitaly - Wine Exhibition. Vinitaly became international in 1978 when it opened to wines from outside Italy and since 1980 has always been held in April.