Trade Fairs vs B2B Workshops for the Wine Export Industry

March 02, 2022
By winepleasures

I’ve been organising B2B Workshops for the wine import-export industry for more than 20 years now and have always been astonished how wine producers swarm like bees to a large trade fair and afterwards very often complain that it was a waste of time and money and then the following year they return again paying a high price tag.

I’m a strong believer in the value of B2B events over large trade fairs and the ROI which one on one marketing provides. 

Over the last 20 years my company Wine Events Worldwide with the brand name Wine Pleasures has successfully produced and marketed 45 B2B Workshops in Italy and Spain, so I feel like I’m in a position to share my marketing perspective on trade fairs vs B2B Workshops. With tight budgets, it’s critical for producers to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each model to properly align their business to their marketing strategy.

B2B WorkshopsAdvantages:

  • Qualified audience – importer participation is only possible after a selection process by the organiser and paying a registration fee to attend.
  • Networking –provides the opportunity to build relationships whether through receptions, lunches, dinners or at the hotel lounge bar.
  • Specific focus  – both buyers and producers in attendance are there for the same reason and focus.So with the event title Wine Pleasures B2B Workshop in Spain it would be logical to expect that the producers will be mostly from Spain and that all of the buyers approved to attend are looking to source wines from Spain.
  • Full Control – both producers and buyers have control over who they meet at the B2B event thanks to an online appoinment setting prior to the event
  • Meet in person – meeting face-to-face and one to one without the hustle and bustle makes for an efficient use of time.The cost to convert a buyer into a client is considerably lower than at a large trade fair. One of my favorite benefits of B2B Workshop marketing is the low cost barrier to get involved. B2B Workshops offer big benefits to wine producers particularly small to medium sized ones. By combining exposure to a specific audience with the ability to interact personally, B2B Workshops offer an experience for both the producer and buyer that other forms of marketing cannot. Though virtual events are slowly gaining popularity, few marketing methods compete with the potential of B2B Workshops.
  • B2B Workshops offer budget friendly solutions to market your brand and sell your wine. With a simple meeting table and access to all you need to conduct a personalised tasting, B2B Workshops offer simple, inexpensive ways to export your wines.
  • A B2B Workshop being held usually in a charming hotel venue allows for much greater personal interaction then a trade fair allows as you can meet several times over the event thanks to lunches and dinners included in the package.
  • Mass wine producers won’t usually attend a B2B Workshops so the smaller wine producers allow them to get business without having cheap entry level wine around to distract.
  • Easy to distance and keep participants safe from Covid


  • Time and energy – a B2B Workshop takes a great deal of work pre and post event – it’s not just turn up serve wine and see who turns up at your stand.

Trade FairsAdvantages:

  • A large trade fair can deliver messages directly to a large number of relevant and interested people. Mass producers with established brand awareness are the ones to most benefit.
  •  Lead Generation – loads of people = loads of potential lead gen opportunities.
  • Trade fairs offer wine producers a good opportunity to engage with their customers and general public directly albeit in a noisy environment.  Likewise, they offer the general public and the trade a good opportunity to taste wines from around the world under one or several pavilion roofs
  • Trade shows are a good place to launch a new wine or latest vintages.
  • Many trade fairs are open to a large and diverse range of target audiences. This provides producers with an opportunity to display and promote their wines to a broader group of people than a small B2B event would.


  • Costs – Exhibiting at a large trade fair is expensive and it doesn’t end with square footage charge. Add in booth design, construction, delivery, staffing, hotel and travel costs, electrical, setup and teardown… the cost of time out of the winery also needs to be taken into account.
  • Quality of leads – Yes producers get a ton of leads, but they’ll need to work really hard to sift thru them for the decision maker importers they seek.
  • Competition – how to stand out in a sea of competing producers from around the world? Not an easy job for boutique producers who simply do not have the budget to spend on snazzy stands and so may well get missed in the razzamataz and confusing environment found in large shows.
  • Excessive frequency of trade shows (Europe) in a short time frame (March to May)
  • Quality meetings with buyers aren’t guaranteed – despite the investment of exhibiting, producers are not guaranteed any sales leads.
  • Not easy to distance and keep participants safe from Covid – just look at the header photo!

Exhibiting at trade shows can bring benefits to a winery and will certainly generate leads if they can be spotted in the oceans of wine producers. Attending a B2B Workshop allows producers to schedule meetings directly with potential importers before the event takes place.

Producers and buyers should consider the advantages and disdvantages outlined in this article before they decide to invest their time and money.   

To conclude I’d like to publish some buyer testimonials we have received at Wine Pleasures B2B Workshops for producers to take on board at their annual budget meetings

“This kind of “fair” is more focused, less stands and more personally. The prebooked meetings of 45 minutes gives a good structure and the possibility to choose them myself and even opportunity to do spontaneous meetings. The 2-3 day “tasting” gives opportunity to come back to the persons you want to continue discussions with. A very good overview of the Spanish wine regions, interesting to compare same grape from different regions” Arvid Nordquist, Sweden

“Workshops for our medium size structure are the ideal buying conditions for us” Overland Trade, France

“I prefer the workshop method because it’s more informative and personal (e.g. the wine seminar at the first evening, especially for people who don’t have experiences with Spanish wines. The workshop method very good, one felt nearly in a “familiar” atmosphere, one had the chance to speak with a lot of people during the meals in a very relaxed atmosphere” CS-ENO, Germany

“I think you have time for tasting and speaking with the Bodegas; it´s more personally. It is better than a normal trade fair!” Bodega Andaluza, Germany

“I never experienced such a personal and efficient possibility to get to know that many wineries in such a short period of time”. Fine Spirits, Switzerland

“I have been most pleased to be part of this event. It has reached my expectations and now it is time to follow up to grab the orders”. Global Trade Search, USA

“The highlight for me was that there were local rather small wineries that normally couldn’t afford a big fair like VinExpo”. Cissus Holgros, Denmark

“Just to let you know that on a business point of view, your event was very to PVI.I have found new suppliers and discovered interesting wines and wineries.This should bring for us and for some wineries some good business within the next month” Planete Vins International, France

“Nice event from where you can get exactly information you would need and meet the people you exactly looking for. Professional and nice atmosphere and good place to meet connosieurs from different countries”. AS Valior, Estonia

“Der katalonische Workshop war gelungen! Neben der excellenten Organisation und dem angehmen Ambiente waren die teilnehmenden Bodegas meist “echte” Entdeckungen. Ich hoffe nur, dass in Zukunnft meine Landsleute das Angebot von Wine Pleasures mehr nutzen werden”. Herzlichen Dank! Manfred Wine Pool, Germany

“I very much liked the limited number of producers at the wine pleasures workshop. I would like to have a choice of potentially meeting with five or six producers from each of the wine appelations and regions from around Spain. The Alimentary in Barcelona, VinExpo Bordeaux, VinItaly are too big and too overwhelming.” Borvin Beverage, USA

I fully agree on your viewpoints, and appreciate that you put them into writing. Also I appreciate that your format saves one day, since you use the first half day for travels, and nearly all of the last half for useful stuff. And likewise that you use the last day for business during the first half and travel the last half. Procura, Norway

Anthony Swift is the Director of Wine Events Worldwide, a company which organises B2B Workshops for the wine import-export industry, the International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) and wine competitons aimed at informing the trade. Comments and feedback on this article are welcome.


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