Argentine wine has grown more than any other country in the last 3 years. This was reflected in the 2016 London Wine Fair, where I had the opportunity to talk with the people who are driving this growth.
Last week I had the privilege of being the only journalist from Argentina in the London Wine Fair which is the biggest and most important meeting for the industry in the UK. This year the fair received more than 10.000 people who met 700 exhibitors and more than 10.000 different wines from most of the wine producing countries in the world. Exhibitors include importers and distributors, wineries, country stands (such as Wines of Argentina) and service firms.
UK market for the Argentine wine industry
Based on 2014 statistics from the INV (Argentinian National Wine Institute), the UK is the third most important export destination of Argentina receiving almost 10% of all wine exports. Andrew Maidment, Europe and Asia Manager for ‘Wines of Argentina’, explains the current situation, “Argentine wine has been the fastest growing category in the UK for the last 3 years, we have grown in double digit growth for consecutive 12 quarters now. If you put this into perspective, the UK wine market has fallen 2% for the last two years and argentine wine has rising by almost 65%. So its very exciting times for Argentina in the UK now.”
In the last years the main specialized distributors of Argentine wine have had an annual growth of 20–40%, and they are planning to continue this rate of growth in the following years. Sophie Jump, Director of ‘Jump Start Wine Solutions’, explains the British wine market “The UK is an important market because is a long term market and a growing market. The main issue that I see is that it is a market that needs patience, investments particularly in terms of time.”
About the future of Argentine wine in the UK, Solano Peña-Lenzi, Director of ‘Hispamerchants’, tells, “We have to capitalize the fact we got into the premium category and we have to maintain that.” He also describes how argentine wineries have improved in the last years, “They have learned to make better wines and they have been open to listen the feedback and reactions of the markets. In addition to this it is also important to focus in promoting the different regions and subregions of Argentina.”
Local wineries present in the fair
For the winery ‘Los Haroldos’, the UK is one of its 3 most important international markets, taking in account that they export to more than 45 countries. Franco Falasco, representing the winery in the fair, commented that their international markets sales have improved exponentially thanks to the investment in a team of 10 export managers around the world.” But he also expressed the high state of competitiveness in the main international markets, “China, United States, United Kingdom and Brazil are very competitive markets and it would be good to research other countries in an earlier stage of wine commercialization.”
Another side of exporting Argentina’s wine industry are the opportunities of foreign investment into the country. During the fair I had the opportunity to meet Kathy Byrne, investor in the estate and lodge ‘Alpasión’ with 85 hectares (210 acres) in the Uco Valley and with plans of building their own winery. The story of ‘Alpasión’ starts in 2009 with a group of friends who decided to partner to produce and commercialize their own wine. Having the option to invest in any region of the world they chose Mendoza in Argentina and today they are already selling their wines in the main international markets. Mendoza, along with the other wine regions of Argentina, having a great history and experience in wine making could work to foster foreign investment in the region and as a result create new job opportunities and a higher development of the industry.
Laurie Webster, CEO of ‘Las Bodegas’, explains what they look for in a winery for when deciding to import and distribute new wines in the UK, “We look for flexibility, we look for an understanding that is very important to manage different sectors of the market in different ways. We also look for innovation, we look for supply partners who don’t want to stand still, they want to keep progressing and experimenting because Argentina is changing rapidly in wine terms, is improving immensely. Every year the wines become better.”
Argentine wines are on the rise in the United Kingdom and the future prospects are as positive. It is important that all parties of the industry work towards the same objectives and take advantage of this growth to establish Argentine wine in the minds of British consumers.