In early November 2023, Coimbra, Portugal, became the spotlight of the wine world


Author: Veronika Busel

The event, Wine Future, brought together acclaimed professionals whose expertise spanned from the revolutionary wine tech companies in New Zealand to the esteemed top-recognized wineries in Argentina.

For three days, this event turned Portugal into a hub for wine discussions, highlighting its role in the global wine scene. Wine Future, already known for its significant impact, had its first meeting in Barcelona in 2006, focusing on climate change and wine. This 2023 gathering in Coimbra marked its fourth, memorable edition under the theme “Breaking Barriers”.

The event, under the visionary leadership of Pancho Campo, the founder of the Wine Future and Green Wine Future summits, gained additional prestige with Wines of Portugal as a co-organizer. It was further elevated by the esteemed and adept leadership of its president, Frederico Falcao. and Wine Travel Awards were featured as official partners of Wine Future, and one of the WTA nominees had is special place at that event. Now a bit more details step by step.

The heart of the event was built on three key elements, starting with the captivating and genuine setting. Coimbra, a scenic city in Portugal, is renowned for its perfect mix of old buildings, a strong history in education, distinctive cultural customs, and breathtaking natural surroundings. This combination makes it a true and unique treasure, deeply ingrained in Portuguese culture. However, Coimbra has rarely been a central point for delving into Portugal’s wine industry.

The second element was the people, their diversity and originality, who attended the event and the level of discussion they were able to create together. Portugal rarely witnessed so many top figures in one place on a single day. The event featured speakers and delegates from over 40 countries. Some of the spotlighted names included Dr. Laura Catena, Dr. Liz Thach, David Allen MW, Robert Joseph, Adrian Bridge, Siobhan Turner MW, Paul Mabray, Stephen Wong MW, Martin R. Reyes MW, Ulf Sjodin MW, Catherine Leparmentier and many more.

The discussions at the event delved deeply into the challenges and opportunities of these uncertain and changing times, covering a wide array of topics such as economic trends, evolving patterns of consumption, diversity, equity, inclusion, sustainability, wine marketing, and the impact of disruptive digital technologies. Experts also reflected on the significant shifts in consumption and production over recent decades, including a generational change, emphasizing the need for the industry to adopt new methods and voices to effectively communicate with both current and potential consumers.

Wine Future’s originality laid in initiating uncomfortable conversations, helping the sector to address its issues and capitalize on untapped opportunities. Alongside acclaimed wine professionals, the event gave a voice to minorities and inter-industry and outsider professionals who had important insights and benchmarking practices to share. This approach helped to better understand the reality and see the bigger picture.

Nobel Prize winner in Economic Sciences, Sir Christopher Pissarides, delved into the future of the world economy and analyzed its potential impact on the wine industry. Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, who also ventured into the beer business, shared his insights on entrepreneurship, marketing, and human nature, exemplifying such enriching discussions.

Others like Queena Wong, Mike Wangbickler, Graham Miller, Georgia Panagopoulou, Simone Roveda, Ntsiki Biyela, Mags Janjo, Cristina V. Miranda, Anna Chilton, Irem Eren, Alder Yarrow (a former WTA winner), Carlos de Jesus, Bento Amaral, Rob Mc Millan, and many more also had valuable insights to share and be heard.

The event was broadly aimed at a diverse group of industry professionals, including trade members, winery owners and management, wine buyers, importers and distributors, wine marketers, and wine media. These are the individuals who drive trends and make key decisions in the wine world.

In addition, a trade fair area and various micro-events were specially arranged to promote networking among all participants, including exhibitors, delegates, and speakers.

Participants in this event had the opportunity to visit the stands of several tens companies, among them were Amorim, Anselmo Mendes, Bairrada, Barbeito, Casa da Passarella, Casas Altas / Villa Oeira, Caves São João, CVR Beira Interior, CVR Dão, CVR Lisbon, CVR Tejo, Gonzalez Byass, Green Point, Hill Smith, INEGI, Mouchão, New Zealand Fine Wines, Porto and North Tourism, Quinta do Casal, Ramos Pinto, Robert Joseph, Sogevinus, Sogrape, Tourism Center Portugal, Verallia, Quevedo.

To access the full program, explore event partners, and find detailed information about the event, please visit the official Wine Future website at

The third element featured top-level, truly “jewels in the crown” degustations, particularly notable for the wine selection. These were organized in the beautiful former church of the Convent of São Francisco. Performing in the area of the former altar lent additional solemnity, significance, and spirituality to everything that transpired during this private tasting, which was crafted to be truly intimate.

Led by renowned professionals and industry experts like Dirceu Vianna Jr, MW, who supported the “Icon Wines of Portugal” tasting, and Richard Mayson with “Legendary & Historic Madeira & Port,” the event also featured a highly anticipated masterclass led by Mark Squires titled “The Magnificent 12 – Honoring the Ukrainian Wine Industry.”

The organizers placed a strong emphasis on the Ukrainian wine industry. They aimed to create space for it in currently cluttered information landscape. The beautifully organized tasting, attended by a couple of hundred top professionals, was named in honor of Ukraine’s wine industry and highlighted this theme on the main stage.

Describing this particular tasting, it is important to note that over the course of one and a half hours, sample by sample, 12 iconic wines from all over the planet were showcased. These wines have become excellent representatives of some of the most respected countries and regions. They were carefully examined and presented by Mark Squires, an acclaimed and highly respected wine professional, critic, and journalist, and a former contributor to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Assisting in presenting this treasury of selections was Maureen Downey.

The full list of wines included:

  1. France – Bollinger Special Cuvée Champagne Bollinger
  2. Germany – 2020 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling GG – Dr. Loosen
  3. New Zealand – 2021 Pyramid Valley Snake’s Tongue Pinot Noir
  4. Italy – 2021 Colore by Bibi Graetz
  5. Ukraine – 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Iukuridze Family Wine Heritage
  6. California – 2013 Joseph Phelps Insignia
  7. Chile – 2015 Viñedo Chadwick
  8. Argentina – 2019 Adrianna Vineyard Mundus Bacillus Terrae Malbec – Catena
  9. Australia – 2018 Yalumba The Octavius Shiraz
  10. Portugal – 2011 Barca Velha – Sogrape
  11. 11.Spain – Tío Pepe Estrella de los Mares – Gonzalez Byass
  12. South Africa – 2019 Klein Constantia

Drinks Media was very pleased to facilitate the collaboration between the prominent Ukrainian winery “Shabo” and Wine Future, enabling the tasting of their wines at the event. Their iconic wine, “Vaja” vintage 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon – Iukuridze Family Wine Heritage – which won a nomination at the WTA 2022-2023 in the category “Brand – the Visiting Card of the Country,” was presented as slot number 5 during this special selection.

Drinks Media had a conversation with Mark, immediately following the tasting. During the discussion, Mark mentioned his Ukrainian roots shared his thoughts on Ukrainian wine that he just tasted:

“We tasted an interesting wine today from the Shabo family, a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, and it presented itself beautifully, holding its own alongside some really big wines. It’s a shame that the producer couldn’t be here because I think they could make significant inroads into Western markets. Nonetheless, I remain hopeful that this will still happen.”

According to the organizers’ press release, the next edition of Wine Future is scheduled to take place from November 7 to 9 at the Kovens Convention Center in Miami. They highlight Miami’s significance not just as a tourist destination but also for its burgeoning wine scene. The city serves as a key hub and entry point into the U.S. market for wine producers from Europe and South America. Additionally, Miami is noted for being at the forefront of climate change challenges in the U.S.

In line with these themes, Green Wine Future will also host an Auction at the event to raise funds for various organizations, including the CLEO Institute, Napa Green, and the Planet Future Foundation.


Photos: Wine Travel Awards, Wine Future