Seven conclusions of the reborn APEV after ProWein

by Wines of Romania
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For the first time, Romania’s participation in ProWein, one of the largest international wine fairs, was solely funded by the budgets of wine producers, without any support from the state. The "box" type stand drew some criticisms; however, APEV says the overall result is favorable and promises to invest in rebranding Romanian wine in both the local and international markets in the future. Below is APEV’s press release regarding the conclusions drawn from participating in ProWein (subheadings are ours).

The manifesto of the new generation in the wine industry – ProWein 2024

Our story begins in September 2023 because at that time, at the initiative of Mihnea Olariu, over 30 wineries gathered to unite and build something together under the structure of APEV Romania. It wasn’t the first meeting of its kind. There have been many others before, but they failed quickly. Therefore, expectations were high, as always, but hopes were low.
After this meeting, we realized that something had changed, something that had been absent for the last 30 years is now present, and finally, things can evolve. It’s about the young people in the wine industry, those who have taken over the leadership of the wineries and who want to show that more is possible. Additionally, funding from the budget through ARICE was approved, and we were determined to use it to the best of our ability.

ARICE withdraws funding

Several rounds of meetings followed to better establish our common objectives and attract as many wineries as possible to the project. By December, we already had nearly 40 wineries in the project, but unlocking the budget for ProWein 2024 was still a topic under discussion.
At the beginning of January 2024, the news came that seemed to put a big X on our dreams, namely that the funding approved by the state (ARICE) had been withdrawn. There were just two months left until the fair, tens of thousands of euros had already been spent on the stand rental, and we realized that we had neither the money nor the time. For a few hours, we were stuck, not knowing what was best to do. We could choose to lose the invested money and have Romania’s stand at ProWein be a huge empty space of over 200 square meters. However, we chose not to give up on our dreams and to try to see them through at any cost, even at the cost of failure.

Yes, Romania makes wine!

What followed was a fantastic, intense, and full of lessons journey. First and foremost, we took a stand, and in a very short time, we managed to gather the minimum necessary budget from wineries. Initially 15 wineries, then 18, and finally, we managed to gather 21. In parallel, we returned to the strategy we had outlined for the initial concept and began to adapt it to the new budget (which was over 30% lower than the initial one) and the remaining time for production and implementation (approximately 4 weeks from idea to completion).
The initial concept, which resulted in both the stand design and the communication umbrella, started from some simple objectives: to be disruptive, revolutionary, different, nonconformist. Based on the previous experience of producers, where the exclamation "What, Romania makes wine?!" was common to all who visited Romania’s stand, we realized that we needed to embrace this perception and exploit it as creatively as possible. Thus, we came up with the slogan "Yes, Romania makes wine," which takes the current perception to the next level with a powerful statement.

Additionally, we decided that the best strategy for the stand design was to go for "reverse psychology," where, if all the stands at the fair are open, Romania’s stand would be a "box" that would delimit and encapsulate the "world of Romanian wine," premiumize it, and turn it into a MEGA-Experience Object. An object that would spark controversy, curiosity, and invite people to enter and discover Romanian wine. The initial concept and marketing strategy included a much more complex branding, immersive experiences, headphones with music, etc., so that the impact with the world of Romanian wine would be maximal. Unfortunately, time and budget did not allow us to do all these things.

APEV’s Conclusions

Now that the fair has ended, we can say that:

  1. The organic reach achieved by the topic of Romanian wine participation in ProWein 2024 under the slogan "Yes, Romania makes wine." and the nonconformist stand design under the auspices of APEV Romania is considerable (hundreds of posts, comments, shares), and it leads us to believe that our strategy worked.
  2. Through the traffic we had at the stand, the atmosphere inside of it from start to finish, the number of leads, and their high level of qualification, we believe we have achieved the main objectives we set for ourselves.
  3. The masterclass organized on the three Romanian grape varieties, Feteasca Alba, Regala, and Neagra, led by Valentin Ceafalau, was "fully booked," which is an extraordinary achievement.
  4. A major achievement for us is that we have created around APEV Romania a fabulous group of people who presented their wines to each other, who cleaned up the stand together, who went out together after each day of the fair, congratulated each other, and helped each other, among other things.
  5. We generated a lot of constructive controversy online, from which we received a lot of feedback for the future. We know we could have done better, and it will be better.
  6. This is just a starting point, a brick laid in the foundation of this project. Our medium and long-term strategy will include the evolution of this concept, both in design and branding. We will grow and naturally open up to the international wine world. Romanian wine has now assumed its position, even if it is perhaps an unpleasant one for some.
  7. We aim to start from the feedback of the 21 wineries, consolidate the foundation created, and attract as many valuable wineries and people as possible to the project.

APEV seeks public-private partnership

However, perhaps the most important thing to remember from this project is that participation in ProWein 2024 represents only a small, initial step in building the Romanian wine brand, which represents a longer process that requires everyone’s support. APEV Romania’s mission is to promote Romanian wine for export as well as in the domestic market, alongside as many Romanian wineries as possible. This can only be achieved at a high and professional level with the help of a public-private partnership. Without public funding (see the achievements of any national wine brand globally), it will be impossible to carry out a Romanian wine promotion project at a level that is relevant in the international market.

It should be noted that all national stands present at ProWein, whether from countries such as Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Ukraine, and Moldova, etc., or from major producers such as Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal, are made with extensive support from the governments of their respective countries.

Therefore, the first actions we will take in the immediate future are those of attracting as many wineries as possible to APEV Romania and raising awareness among public authorities to attract them as partners.

About APEV and ProWein

This is the story of the rebirth of APEV Romania and participation in ProWein Dusseldorf 2024 written by the four who organized everything: Mihnea Olariu, Carmen Vasioiu, Dumi Ghiuri, and Daniel Negrescu, with the support of those without whom this project would not have existed: Aurelia Visinescu Wines, Domeniile Averesti, Budureasca, Ceptura Winery, Caii de la Letea, Cotnari, Familia Darabont, Davino, Crama DeMatei, Domeniile Franco-Romane DFR, Domeniul Bogdan, Dropia Wines, Crama Girboiu, Crama Hermeziu, Jidvei, Liliac, Viile Metamorfosis, Murfatlar Vinul, Crama Oprisor, Crama Rasova, Domeniile Samburesti.
On its 30th anniversary, ProWein 2024 welcomed 47,000 registered visitors from 135 countries and 5,400 exhibitors from 65 countries.

ProWein is the only international trade fair for wines and spirits that extensively covers the entire global market. Today, ProWein Dusseldorf is the largest and most important trade fair for wines and spirits in the world.
APEV Romania, the Association of Wine Producers and Exporters of Romania, brings together the most important wine exporters in the country, who together account for approximately 70% of Romania’s total wine exports. Its members also hold about 70% of the domestic market share.

APEV Romania was established in 2001 as a nonprofit legal entity, intended to represent, defend, and promote the rights and interests of its members, both locally and internationally. At this moment, APEV is undergoing a transformation towards a collective of visionaries who want to reposition the image of Romanian wine internationally.
With a commitment to collaboration and innovation, our mission is twofold: to conquer the domestic and international markets with Romanian wines and to reposition the Romanian wine country brand in the global market.


© 2022 Wines Of Romania By Marinela Ardelean

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