The 20th Annual MIllésime Bio World Organic Wine Fair

By Sue Straight

The Millésime Bio World Organic Wine Fair celebrated its 20th anniversary on January 28, 29 & 30, 2013. This well-organized event featured more than 700 organic wineries from around the globe. It was held at the Parc Des Expositions Exhibition Center in Montpellier in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France. Languedoc-Roussillon is located in the far south of France, extending northward from the Mediterranean Sea into the mountains and plateaus of the Massif Central, and from the Rhône River in the east to the Spanish and Andorran in the southwest. It is the oldest wine grape growing region in France and the world’s largest contiguous wine-producing region.

On November 27, the Challenge Millésime Bio competition was held to judge the best of the organic wines. Winners were showcased at a dedicated tasting bar at the exhibition center.

On Monday, January 28, the fair was officially opened by the Regional Council of Languedoc-Roussillon and other regional organizations. A highlight of the opening ceremony was the announcement of the award winning wines of the Challenge Millésime Bio wine competition.

After the opening ceremony, over 3,500 wine trade visitors (wine importers, exporters, journalists and buyers) spent the day working their way around the exhibition center – sampling thousands of wines offered by participating wineries. Wineries from every continent (except Antarctica) were present and offering their products to the trade. That evening, visitors and exhibitors alike were treated to a festive 20th anniversary gala, which included fantastic foods, wines and dancing to live Gypsy guitar music.

Tuesday, January 29 was another day of tasting some of the world’s best organic wines. Multiple roundtable discussions and conferences were held on topics about European viticulture, European winemaking and regulations and the evolving world wine market. Participants included 348 regional producers, 220 international wine buyers and several wine journalists from around the world.

Wednesday, January 30 and Thursday, January 31, were coordinated by  Forum International d’Affaires (FIA)– an organization dedicated to driving the export growth of regional businesses), and hosted by Sud de France (a local organization that focuses on Languedoc-Roussillion wines and food production, as well as promoting local tourism). Along with more wine tasting, conferences continued on the evolving European wine market, viticulture, winemaking and regulations.

The main objectives of this highly coordinated event were to better educate the world wine trade about organic wines and to provide a platform where international buyers could interact with global producers of top-quality organic wines.