The organisers of the London Wine Fair have announced that this year’s show will feature a special preview day, for the first time in the event’s 40-year history. 

Coined “Welcome Back Wednesday”, the preview – which will take place on Wednesday April 28 – has been designed specifically for the on-trade to assist their preparations in advance of the full opening of their sector on May 17, which is also the first day of the London Wine Fair.

Welcome Back Wednesday (WBW) will be open to those exhibitors signed up to the main event, who are specifically looking to target the on-trade, at no extra charge. 

The decision has been made in consultation with exhibitors and on-trade visitors, and it is expected that around 20 companies will take part in this mini preview, focusing on the major UK importers and small to medium sized on-trade suppliers. 

WBW will take place at the mid-point between opening for outdoor hospitality (April 12) and indoor hospitality (May 17) and it will give the industry an opportunity to assess opening strategies and gear up for the end of lockdown. Alongside exhibitor activities, WBW will be rich in on-trade relevant content, including a heavy-weight panel debate on the reopening of the hospitality sector.

The London Wine Fair’s May event will now be structured so that each day is partially targeted to a specific sector; day one’s content will be tailored to the off-trade and international audience; day two will be focused on on-trade; and day three will have a discovery and press focus.  

All exhibitors and all visitors can access the platform and arrange 121 meetings across all three days and there will be cross-sector relevant content on each day.  The Fair will welcome all those with the stamina and availability to attend for the duration, just as they would with the live event.  

Since the 100% digital announcement back in January, the response from existing exhibitors has been extremely positive, according to the organisers. Returning exhibitors include: ABS Wine Agencies; Enotria & Coe; Graft Wine; Hatch Mansfield; Sud de France; ViniPortugal; Wines of Greece.  There are also a number of first-time exhibitors, including: SustainableWineSolutions and Wines in India.

Head of London Wine Fair, Hannah Tovey said: “The need for absolute flexibility has been paramount at every stage of working on the 2021 show.  Balancing an event which will not only be viable, but also “must-attend”, with every twist and turn the Pandemic takes has been a challenge, but one that we have totally embraced. 

“When the government announced its intention to fully re-open hospitality on Monday May 17, we very quickly realised we would need to adapt to ensure The Fair’s continued relevance to the on-trade.  It was immediately obvious that sommeliers would prioritise their re-opening day over everything else.  But we also felt strongly that there needed to be some kind of platform for this sector to do business and share intelligence in the run up to the end of Lockdown. 

“Preparations for the May event and Welcome Back Wednesday are now well under way.  Exhibitors are committing to the show on a daily basis, and we are compiling an unrivalled schedule of unmissable content, which will be announced over the coming weeks.”