Vinexposium chief executive Rodolphe Lameyse

Prowein’s new rivalry

11 June, 2024

In 1994 Prowein launched with just 321 exhibitors across 2,300sq m and registered 1,517 visitors. 

Over the subsequent 30 years the show expanded at Messe Düsseldorf to attract almost 6,000 exhibitors each year across more than 70,000sq m. As far as trade shows go, it’s one of the biggest success stories in the industry.

“No other trade fair, either in Europe or overseas, offers such a complete product portfolio. Global market leaders as well as small, select outfits and up-and-coming newcomers will again present themselves in Düsseldorf – the capital for wines and spirits.” These were the words of Peter Schmitz, director of Prowein, in the build-up to the 2024 show, its 30th anniversary.

There’s no doubting the authority which Prowein has held over the wine trade, particularly over the past decade with Vinexpo Bordeaux – once the major player – repositioning to cater for the domestic market.

However, under the stewardship of Vinexposium chief executive Rodolphe Lameyse, Vinexpo Paris and Wine Paris merged in 2019, and since then the joint event has been gathering momentum. In fact, the show attracted around 4,000 exhibitors and 40,000 visitors, which isn’t far off Prowein numbers in just five years.

Raúl Gil Garcia, international commercial and marketing director at Marqués de Cáceres, said: “We are at Prowein every year because it’s obviously so important with many of our partners also being present. But I can see Vinexpo Paris growing every year, especially with younger people.”

Guillermo De Aranzabal Bittner, deputy general director of Rioja Alta, adds: “We’ve noticed that many buyers and producers from the US and Asia are going to Vinexpo Paris instead of Prowein.

“Logistically, Paris is much easier than Düsseldorf for us with more hotel options, and cheaper too, plus I think it’s a much more attractive proposition to visit Paris.”

In 2020 Lameyse introduced Be Spirits, a dedicated space for spirits at the inaugural Vinexpo Paris & Wine Paris show and the segment has since grown substantially – in 2025 it will cover three floors. In response to this success, at this year’s Prowein there was the introduction of Prospirits as the split between wine and spirits continues to balance out across both exhibitions.

Having visited Prowein several times, it’s an invaluable opportunity to network with new brands, or connect with familiar faces. But a common dread among visitors is the scale of the show – you can cover 10km a day walking between the different halls. Essentially, a show can become too big, and Schmitz has taken action.

“Entirely in the interests of our exhibitors and visitors from throughout the world, we will arrange Prowein in a markedly more compact structure again, like prior to the pandemic,” he says.

Over the years there’s been a constant narrative of Vinexpo vs Prowein, and while the latter has been dominant in recent times, it feels as though there’s a momentum shift unfolding.

Prowein will always be a big show, it’s ingrained as a major date in the industry calendar, but it looks like the two exhibitions will be similarly powerful as the rivalry resumes.

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