VinItaly. Many of you may already know about this annual wine fair held every year in Verona. It’s an enormous 4 day long event in which many (actually most) Italian producers attend to show their wines to foreign and domestic buyers in the wine trade. They are all packed into buildings by region and are assigned table or booth numbers, and depending on how much they wish to spend on their space could be as small as a desk, or in some cases, a two story castle replica, like the ridiculous one Banfi erects every year.
I have a love/hate relationship with this wine fair. Many of us do in this business. It’s enormous, crowded, loud, exhausting, confusing. After all the driving, parking, and standing it can often take several hours before you’re officially in. Then when you finally make it in you have an enormous amount of buildings to traverse, producers to find, drunks to step over, shitty pannini’s to eat, and gallons of espresso to suck down (enjoyable except for the lines). I won’t go into details about the bathrooms, but use your imagination. I know where the cleanest ones are, but I will not offer that info.
Of course, it’s always best to see your producers in their natural environments- in their villages, vineyards, and with their families (and 4X4’s- my fav) rather than in multiple buildings. I’ve been fortunate to spent many days breaking bread and spending time with Italian wine producers, overlooking vineyards, eating the local cuisine, talking about wine and life. The Italians take care of you- plain and simple. This is my job. The fruits of my labor. I know it’s amazing.
But, visiting producers (albeit more enjoyable) is very time consuming. It’s impossible for an Italian to allow you to visit for less than several hours- without feeding you, and even offering you a bed to sleep in. So, regardless of how much we all complain about VinItaly, it can also be exhilerating, educational, and a place to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time. And since it’s held in the beautiful city of Verona, it typically draws people back every year, whether they like it or not.. Until next year VI.