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11/09/2017

IBWSS London: Putting Bulk Wine in the headlines for the right reasons

You would think it would be hard to ship tens of millions of litres of bulk wine around the world and not be noticed, but unless you go looking the bulk wine industry operates very much under the radar of the mainstream wine trade. Which is why the International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show, that held its first event in the US last month and is coming to London in February, offers a fresh new debating and networking forum for those tasked with bringing those wines to market.

The IBWSS San Francisco event was the first of its kind for the US bulk wine sector. Bottling wine in the market might fast becoming the go to solution for on-trade operators looking to maintain key price points, but to do so well needs specialist help and knowledge as the inaugural International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show in the US demonstrated.

The bulk wine has been in the news past month for all the right….and wrong reasons. Just as leading players from the US bulk wine industry were gathering in San Francisco to take part in the inaugural International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show, one of its biggest players in Europe, Raphaël Michel, was seeing its chairman arrested and charged on serious levels of fraud and for allegedly passing off up to 4m cases of bulk Rhône wine.

The scandal that has erupted around Raphaël Michel and its chairman Guillaume Ryckwaert has sent shock waves not only around the bulk wine industry but the wider trade. It is also an uncomfortable reminder that not all the millions of wine being shipped around the world, or between producers in their home countries, is always exactly what it says on the label. A forensic examination of production, export, import, and customs data would tell you that.

The situation regarding Raphaël Michel and Guillaume Ryckwaert is ongoing and likely to take months to come to a conclusion. It only came to light following a routine audit of the winery’s records by French customs. But the fact the investigation covers a “great number of violations” over a period of four years, up to March 2017, and concerns wine classified as Vin de France as Côtes du Rhône, Châteauneuf du Pape, and other AOC will raise eyebrows amongst wine buyers everywhere.

Whatever the outcome it should also serve as a line in the sand for everyone involved in the shipping and management of bulk wine that this is still a relatively new industry with a few creases to iron out of its supply chain.

Strategically important

It is why events such as the San Francisco IBWSS conference are so important. It is to be followed in February when the IBWSS comes to London and gives operators, buyers, suppliers, distributors, and producers the chance to take a serious, focused look at this now vital part of the industry. It might not be for the wine purist, but bulk wine and bottled in market wines are here to stay and are going to be increasingly important, particularly in the UK, as both on and off-trade operators struggle with duty and currency to hit the price points that their customers want to pay.  

We will have to wait until the new year until London gets the chance to put bulk wine firmly on the agenda. The Buyer, UK’s leading drinks magazine has been working with IBWSS organizers, the US publishing group Beverage Trade Network, to ensure the right level of debate is had as part of a set piece conference over the two-day show on February 26–27.

The latest big names to be added to the list include Neil Anderson, marketing director, and Paul Braydon, purchasing controller at Kingsland Drinks, one of the first and most influential players in handling, bottling and distributing bulk wine in the UK.

Richard Leaver, founder of Twin Thieves, the bulk wine and sourcing consultancy business will also be joining a roster of speakers that includes, Mark Lansley, Broadland Wineries, Mark Roberts, Lanchester Wines, Andrew Shaw, Conviviality, Robin Copestick, Copestick Murray, Denys Hornabrook, VINEX, and other leading figures in the trade. They will be following in the footsteps of the likes of Tim Hanni MW, Bobby Kock, the California Wine Institute, Nat DiBuduo, Allied Grape Growers, Bob Paulinski MW, Coles Liquor Group and Chris Mehringer, Park Street who all helped lead the debate at IBWSS in San Francisco.

IBWSS London aims to be the meeting point of the Europe and UK trade to buy and sell grapes, bulk wine and bulk spirits. The event takes place between February 26–27 at the Royal Horticultural Halls. There are still opportunities for exhibitors to take out floor space and for members of the trade to register to attend. Full details can be found here including the growing list of top line speakers. IBWSS London Exhibitor Registrations are now open.  Register before Sept 30 & Save £400 + Get a 2 Day Conference Pass Valued at £400.

For more information, please visit IBWSS website.

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WID 2017