Vinitaly's story, where we too have a part
50 years of Vintaly told in a book. People, events, where I, like other producers have participated. A surprising story
By Donatella Cinelli Colombini Toscana, Montalcino, Casato Prime Donne winery
Did you know that Vintaly was born in Siena? It was called “Mostra mercato dei vini tipici” and took place in the Fortezza Medicea in Siena since 1933. It was the first step towards the appellations approved in 1963 and created three years later.
The wines were presented in a gazebo that every region built separately as if it were a small expo. The event lasted one month and attracted more than 100,000 visitors.
In 1967 Verona takes on the project of creating a wine event inside the Agricultural Fair space. This was already being organized since 1898. The creative genius is Angelo Betti, a volcanic man, from Emilia Romagna who launches the “Giornate del vino italiano” two days of meetings in the Palazzo della Gran Guardia in front of the Arena.
The name Vinitaly comes in 1971 with the move to empty buildings outside the historical centre. It is only mid-seventies that the mayor of Verona initiates the construction of the pavilions used today. These are the number 8 and 9 still used today, very small and simple compared to the present day sizes. Vinitaly used to take place at the beginning of December and had more than 500 exhibitors. The change of date to April happens in 1980 when the event used to last 8 days. Vinitaly grows year after year until the methanol scare. Just before the fair in 1986, 23 people die after having consumed wine with added poisonous alcohol.
General panic.. During Vinitaly the Piedmont producers demand the closure of the stands of the suspected wineries and everybody worries in case of a closure of the markets. Since that sad incident Italian wine changes route, and aims for high quality- During the same year the guide Guida del Gambero Rosso was born.
In 1991 a young expert arrives at Vinitaly is name is Umberto Benezzoli, he creates the wine championship the Premio Vinitaly (that I received in 2012) and creates a rapport with Slow Food and Carlin Petrini. In 1993 Vinitaly is the birth-place of the Movimento Turismo del vino. During the next few years my rapport with the Vinitaly press office Piero Paglialunga sets the foundations for a great friendship. The Secretary General Benezzoli ex Rugby player with his unstoppable energy is also a frequent guest at my house.
In 2001 he is substituted by Giovanni Mantovani, a lawyer, who ponders more but with great Energy.
In this period three different but talented characters emerge: press office manager Carlo Alberto Delaini, brand manager Vinitaly Gianni Bruno and Stevie Kim a marketing genius who brings Vinitaly to a more digital dimension, creating Opera Wine together with Wine Spectator, Wine2Wine the forum dedicated to wine business and Vinitaly and the city that takes wine tastings for the public out of the fair.
In 2015 Vinitaly creates the wine pavilion inside the Expo, and in so taking wine for the first time onto the stage of International exhibitions.
Gianni Bruno carries out a real miracle considering the delays, the inquests the organizational errors of the Milan event. The 2016 edition brings home important results: 130.000 operators from 140 nations among which 28.000 buyers and 4.100 exhibitors. Once elected the new President Maurizio Danese, Fieraverona starts planning big projects and a new society layout; it becomes a limited company and plans investments for 94 million euro in 4 years.
What a lovely story, this Vinitaly! It is wonderful to feel part of this adventure and to see my photo together with that of other Donne del vino, in this book.