Monday evening, just three days after publishing this article in the Vinitaly 2020 postponed to JuneoI received this letter from Umberto Cosmo of Bellenda. I had just invited producers and operators in the sector to write to me what they thought of this decision by Verona Fiere, and so dear Umberto's message was particularly welcome. The focus of my article was on the need to (at least) postpone Vinitaly which, given the coronavirus italywas absolutely unthinkable for me to take place in mid-April. When I wrote that article, I literally lashed out at that group of scoundrels I heard complaining about Vinitaly being moved because the coronavirus was no more or less than the seasonal flu for them.
When it comes to Coronavirus Italy, things change from one day to the next. Personally, I had not yet considered cancelling Vinitaly 2020, but I knew for sure that doing so in April was absolutely out of all logical grace. My main fear was the economic loss there could be for the hundreds of wineries present if it became a fair with few enthusiasts and no importers due to the closure of airports and borders. For me it is unthinkable to believe that in exactly one month's time we will be totally out of this pandemic, and even if it really does become an outdated problem for Italy, who is to say that the other European countries, Russia and America will not become the new China? I would like to remind all the phenomena that criticise this Italian situation that we are simply better and more transparent than other nations: we do the swabs for free and we publicly update the data. Do you really want to tell me that this happens in the USA or in rich and productive Germany? What, Trump closes American borders to all passengers arriving from Europe? For fuck's sake, we're the ones who should be closing to everyone arriving from the US! How many buffers have these phenomena done, right there where without insurance to cover you they let you die on the street? No kidding, there's a man from Florida, without health insurance, recently returned from China and with Coronavirus-like symptoms who went to the hospital in Miami to get a swab: 3,270 $ bill. If I could do that I would personally pay for a swab for every US citizen to see if this is the time we stop Trump's dangerous delusion, then see who has to close the borders to whom. Either way. it is clear that, with this ongoing pandemic, Vinitaly in mid-April 2020 cannot be done!
I may be patriotic, I may be against the tide... but I love Italy. I feel Italian through and through, with my beauty, my genius and my limitations. There is nowhere else in the world I would rather live than my beloved Lake Iseo. I am proud of the way Italy works, even though there are many things I would change. Even if my brain is not valued as it is in California. Or is it? If in Italy I managed to make being a wine blogger a job, are we so sure that our country does not give chances to those with talent and resilience? Sooner or later we will talk about this too, but today I do not want to shift the focus!
Just these days Prowein 2020 has been cancelled and postponed to 2021. In efficient -or omertous, depending on one's point of view- Germany, there was no talk of moving the most important national wine fair by a couple of months, but of postponing it directly to the following year. Why is Verona Fiere instead asking the wineries that are the real economic engine of Vinitaly to play Russian roulette? My grandfather would have told me, in Romagnolo and in a less subtle way, that they are all good at being entrepreneurs with other people's backsides...
Dear Dr Danese, Dear Dr Mantovani,
We are writing to express our concern about a possible failure of professional audience for the next Vinitalyshould the event actually take place during the next June.
Our company, like many others in the sector, has a fairly high export quota of around 50% of turnover and developed in almost thirty countries around the world, one of the reasons why we have frequent, almost daily, dealings with the world of importers. In the last two months we have had many and growing indications from our major distributors, regular visitors to Vinitaly, regarding their intention to participate in the event: no one, apart from a small Russian importer, has shown us any intention of coming to Verona in June. Moreover, we would also like to point out that decisions regarding the 2020 market have already been made by our importers and the fair in June would therefore be pointless for many of them.
Add to this the current evolution of the situation in Italy, with the serious and well-known health problems, which lead us to believe, with a good approximation, that the Italian operators will not participate either, who, assuming the COVID-19 issue is resolved as we all hope, will have much more to do than come to the fair in the middle of the summer.
Do we want a fair attended by 'enthusiasts'? As much as it pleases us to dialogue with anyone and get feedback on our products even from people not directly involved in the commercial circuit or simple consumers, we would like to point out that the significant investment we make in what is perhaps the largest wine fair in the world would not be justifiable at all. Nor, we believe, would it be justifiable for Veronafiere, whose efforts to make Vinitaly a truly professional exhibition are well known to us and we have appreciated more and more over the years: one would risk going back to the days when many regarded it as a sort of wine festival, full of the notorious problems that we have fortunately left behind.
As long-standing exhibitors - our first Vinitaly dates back to 1988 - we strongly recommend you to reconsider returning the event to its natural period of April, meaning April 2021.
As entrepreneurs, we realise that this cancellation of the event could bring some budget problem for Veronafiere S.P.A. and destabilise certain balances, given the importance of Vinitaly for the economic fabric of Verona, but at the same time we would like to point out to you the credible possibility of the event resolving itself into a resounding failure for exhibitorsthose hundreds and hundreds of wineries that are the real stakeholders of the fair.
Lastly, we would like to bring to your attention the fact that the majority of medium-small companies, those wineries that are the real driving force behind Vinitaly, since it is for these companies that visitors come and certainly not for those few large companies structured with export offices and dedicated travellers that in any case visit customers regardless of a trade fair. These medium-small companies with whom we are in daily contact express the same perplexities as we do, given the absolute imbalance in the cost-benefit ratio of a fair organised in these absolutely emergency conditions.
We are sure you would like to invite us to 'bet' on a positive outcome, but we would like to emphasise that 'betting' is not part of an entrepreneur's DNA. An entrepreneur invests, sometimes rightly takes risks, but never bets.
While we understand the pressures you are under from local authorities and circles, the only ones who would perhaps benefit from the event, even if it turns out to be a failure for exhibitors, we kindly ask you to consider the point of view of a company that, however small, is part of the entrepreneurial fabric that makes the Italian wine world great.
We look forward to your attention and send you our best regards.
Umberto Casagrande Cosmo - Bellenda srl
How can one disagree with such lucid and intelligent thinking? The fact that Vinitaly 2020 cannot be held in mid-April, I think, with the measures taken by the government, is there for all to see... but after this letter written by someone who lives Vinitaly - and pays for it - one cannot help but feel that it should be cancelled like Prowein.
Dear Verona Fiere, make an effort... don't think about getting a little egg today, but worry about pampering your hen so that she will lay lots of eggs for years to come.