One of the most popular sections – Esoterica, which showcases the portfolios of niche and micro-importers – has been kept on, and its capacity bolstered. A number of quirky products will be on show from boutique sellers. Returning after its LWF debut last year, English winery Black Chalk will unveil its second vintage, focusing on traditional method sparkling with a generous amount of Pinot Meunier in the blend. Another exhibition space set to return is Wines Unearthed, dedicated to discovery and finding exciting wines that have yet to be seen in the UK. This year, the space has been updated to also include a section devoted to organic wines.
The Innovation Zone features a series of seminars and talks hosted by those driving innovation in all types of business, not just the drinks industry. Topics will range from how to build a tribe around your wine brand, to maximising your impact on social media. With a nod to the rising number of drinks companies putting their own weight behind topics such as gender equality to climate change, one talk, called So what do you stand for?, will examine how brands and companies are changing the way they work to stand out and make sure they are a business that can be trusted and cared about. Another stand back for more this year is Drinks Britannia, which acts as a one-stop shop for all UK producers of wine, beer and spirits.
This was introduced to the trade event last year as part of an effort to bring in more international visitors. Such was its success that it has now become a permanent fixture of the London Wine Fair. The event team researched their visitors from last year and found that buying British products was a priority not only for attendees but across the board. “We are a UK-based event, after all,” Tovey says, “so it makes sense to have this on offer.”
But while beer and cider certainly make up a huge part of the UK’s drinks market, the country also saw its best grape harvest to date last year. Tovey says that her team have monitored visitor feedback closely, alongside news and data from the industry at large, and decided that wines from England and Wales will be ones to watch for some time. “We have seen a steady growth reflective of the fact that British drinks are one of the only growing sectors in the wine industry.” A number of UK wineries are set to make an appearance this year, including new Hampshire sparkling producer Black Chalk, as well as Nyetimber, and Kentish winery Simpsons. Thanks to a bumper crop last year, Simpsons, which is taking up stand Y166 in the Esoterica zone, has produced four still wines, which will be poured alongside the first vintage of their Chalklands Classic Cuvée 2016, which was released in April, and two wines from their French estate, Domaine Sainte Rose. Nyetimber, meanwhile, is highlighting the new 2013 vintage of its Blanc de Blancs, as well as Cuvee Chérie, its refreshed demi-sec.