Wine Travel Awards’ first edition: success at the London Wine Fair

London

The culmination of the Wine Travel Awards 2021-2022 took place at the London Wine Fair, an iconic place, a true role model of the wine exhibitions in the world, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. We wish as many successful years to the WTA project too!

One might wonder why the London Wine Fair became that special place for the Drinks+ and WTA teams – it is smaller and more intimate than other well-known reputable exhibitions. And we would answer that the organisers of the LWF have always been completely committed to delivering quality over quantity. And our team shares this philosophy. Moreover, a little spoiler – the London Wine Fair became the WTA winner in the Effective Event category being recognized by the general public and professional WTA jury, so it was our honour to host the final WTA Ceremony in London.

The first year of the WTA has been quite challenging – we have been operating under the conditions of the coronavirus crisis and the Russian war in Ukraine where the project was born and 70% of the team comes from. However, our goal was to find a quality response to those challenges. That is how a new global project dedicated to wine tourism – the Wine Travel Awards (WTA) – became a solid bridge uniting different operators of the industry into the community that shares similar passions and values. Since the first days of existence, the WTA managed to bring together the leading experts in the field of wine and wine tourism from 30 different countries. 

Regardless of a reduction in visitor figures in line with the events sector as a whole, the LWF organisers anticipated that the quality of the visitor audience would remain high. 8,790 (total net) visitors attended this year, a 34% decrease on the last – pre-Pandemic – show in 2019 (13,260 visitors attended in 2019). Interestingly, levels of seniority and buying power of the visitors are higher than in previous years.

Quality, quality and once more quality. Head of London Wine Fair, Hannah Tovey commented: “In 15 years as an event organiser, I have never experienced a show quite like this one. There have been many highs and lows, but crucially, the London Wine Fair team and its exhibitors have pulled off something very special; a show which has brought the industry back together after a period of incredible uncertainty. The buzz at the show was palpable as the trade returned to face-to-face business, tastings, networking and discovery.”

In less than two weeks, the virtual doors of the London Wine Fair will open for the online version of the show. It will attract visitors who were unable to get to London last week from both the UK and internationally, as well as those who have already attended the live event. London Wine Fair digital takes place on 20th and 21st June 2022. 

Talking about the need for the digitalization of wine businesses, the Communication Media Group Drinks+ did not stay aside of this new opportunity. Ironically, the online-offline hybrid strategy was a core of the WTA project concept and helped not only members of the WTA community to demonstrate their business-models to the world, but became a lifeboat to the media group and its team itself. 

As the result of an exciting first campaign year, with extreme pride of the team and community members, the First Wine Travel Awards Ceremony happened at the London Wine Fair in the “Industry Briefing Room” on June 8th, 2022 as a private event.

The Wine Travel Awards Ceremony highlighted the results of the 2021-2022 campaign, where the winners of both public voting and professional jury selection were appraised and new and prosperous names in the wine tourism business were revealed. 

The 2-hour program agenda started with a welcome wine from the Consortium Asti DOCG, an official sponsor of the WTA Ceremony. So many beautiful bottles, unique tastes inherent to the local soils of Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti demonstrated to the professionals gathered in the room how diverse Asti can be! The land of Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti in 2014 was the first of Italy’s premier winemaking regions to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Besides, the program included a presentation of the project and its partners, announcement of the winners and WTA discoveries, a walk-around tasting of wines of the WTA community members. Among the walk-around tasting participants, there were international nominees:

  • F.W. Langguth Erben, one of the largest and the most reputable wineries in Germany, renowned as a pioneer in modern international trade;
  • Castel Mimi, the winery which features today one of the most advanced production facilities in Moldova, equipped with modern machinery;
  • Shumi Winery, the first company in Georgia to offer customers services of eno-gastronomic tourism;
  • Chateau Mukhrani, a cultural and political centre for the Georgian and foreign elite, built in the XIX century;
  • “Armenia Wine” Factory LLC, a modern winery that produces wines and brandies, which gives a chance to discover Armenia through the autochthonous grape varieties and diversity of the terroir.

Among the nominees from Ukraine who were presented at the walk-around tasting, there were 46 Parallel Wine Group, Fathers Wine, Beykush Winery, Shabo Winery, Stakhovsky Wines, Prince Trubetskoi Winery, Honey Badger. Some of these WTA members of Ukrainian origin are now under occupation or were destroyed. Thus, our tasting was the only opportunity to taste the wines of these Ukrainian territories. 

The ceremony was attended by reputable WTA judges such as Robert Joseph, British wine expert, consultant, producer, an editorial consultant for Meininger’s Wine Business International, Felicity Carter, Executive Editor, Pix+ Special Projects, and Doctor Ricardo F. Nunez, the owner of the Vinos de La Luz company, that just received three platinum medals at the Decanter, having won the opportunity to present the “platinum” bottle to Hannah Tovey, Head of London Wine Fair. All together the ceremony, that was invitation only, received 80 VIP guests.

Presenting a WTA judge’s perspective, Robert Joseph said during the ceremony: “When I was first invited to get involved with these awards, I thought really strongly about it. To be publishing in the Ukrainian magazine, that is not an easy place to be but I also had a personal interest because I did a book guide on wine tourism about 15 years ago, and I spent quite a lot of time looking at wine tourism all the years. And the variety of offerings across the world has exploded. As one of the judges of the WTA competition, I had a really hard time, there were a lot of really good entries. In my short list that I’ve got to evaluate, I thought everybody had the right to win and I would like to congratulate everybody that took part in this competition.”

The WTA results were published in The Wine Travel Awards Guide 2021-2022 which, since March 2022 and until the end of the year, have been distributed at the world’s leading wine exhibitions and the WTA events, such as ProWein, London Wine Fair, Bordeaux Wine Week, etc.

Welcome the first-year edition’s winners:

1.The Visiting Card of the Country

Must visit – #124 Château Mukhrani (Georgia)

Brand – the visiting card of the country#33 Vinaria Purcari (Moldova)

Progressive approach – #160 Frank John winery (Germany)

Authentic location – #143 Villa dei Misteri: the wine of Ancient Pompeii (Italy)

Objet d’Art – #164 Museo d’Impresa Mastroberardino Atripalda (Italy)

2.Education in Enotourism

Unique program – #15 “Master Class”, the first sommelier school in Ukraine (Ukraine)

Cultural mission – #136 GuideMASTER Wine Tour Guide Program (Armenia)

3.Enogastronomic Events

Magnet of the region – #152 The Shumi Winery (Georgia)

Effective event – #170 London Wine Fair (UK)

Event of the year – #150 Yerevan Wine Days (Armenia)

4.Ambassador

Ambassador of the year – #133 Wine Paths (France)

Creative strategy – #97 Vinuri de Comrat (Moldova)

5.Wine & Food Influencer

Author of the year – #34  Alder Yarrow (USA)

Research of the year – #159 Wine consumption study (Armenia)

Expert opinion – #38 Alder Yarrow (USA)

The brightest journey – #83 AdVINEtures (Canada)

6.Wine Guide

Guide of the year – #147 Vini Armenian Wine Guide (Armenia)

Unique route – #45 Tanisha Townsend (France)

Educational tour of the year – #109 WineStatistics (Romania)

It was our honour to award WTA winners with trophies and diplomas. Besides, our fund prize sponsors such as the Château Smith Haut Lafitte, La Cité du Vin, the Sonal Holland Wine Academy, the School of Wine Tourism of Catalonia, the University of Padua, the Sumi Winery, Vins Pierre Richard and others – granted them with multiple educational possibilities, wine tourism experiences and exclusive wines. Vinos de La Luz group of companies – sponsor of the ‘Wine & Food Influencers’ nomination – was delighted to provide public voting winners of the nomination with the special prize – a bottle of Peñafiel Edition Limitada 2016. An additional bonus is that all the winners are automatically nominated for the 2nd edition of the WTA campaign.

However, prizes are just the icing on the cake. The main dish of the project is a global tailored-made advertising campaign for each nominee that lasts throughout the year and includes both digital promotion and offline activities – such as participation in the world’s largest wine exhibitions and private events of the WTA. Up to the London Wine Fair, the nominees have been presented in a number of events – in Ukraine, Italy, Spain, as well as in large-scale exhibitions – such as ProWein (5,700 exhibitors + 38,000 visitors from 145 countries) and Vinitaly (4,400 exhibitors and 25,000 visitors from 139 countries). We proceeded with the Balkans International Wine Competition 2022 (Greece) and now the premiere of Bordeaux Wine Week. The WTA team appreciates all the help and support from the London Wine Fair that made this event possible.

The WTA team already prepared the ground for WTA 2022-2023 that will start officially on 1st of September. Join the community and receive a year-long advertising campaign! You’ll be highlighted in the WTA Discovery area https://winetravelawards.com/ on the official website right away – and be automatically included in the WTA campaign next year, too! 

Congratulations to the Wine Travel Awards first year edition winners! We wish all of you future prosperity, growth and more victories you deserve! 

Author: Oleksandra Hryhorieva

Photo: Oleg Savca