Verona played host to the 10th anniversary edition of wine2wine last week, attracting over 900 wine industry professionals from all over the globe. The wine business conference also included a session with Star Wine List, analysing the Scandinavian restaurant wine market, where founder Krister Bengtsson caught up with the notoriously outspoken event organiser Stevie Kim.
Wine2wine is the wine business conference organised by Vinitaly and Veronafiere in collaboration with the Italian Trade Agency, but the person really making it happen is the Korean-American entrepreneur Stevie Kim. She has been at the helm since the outset, and it’s partly her take no prisoners approach that has contributed to the success of the event.
The wine2wine conference sessions are famously on time, thanks to strict discipline from the top. And the feedback from Kim herself is usually brutally frank, with one American presenter told on stage that his detailed and hard-to-read slides were the worst of the conference.
Despite this, the event saw 900 visitors this year, all able to choose between a battery of sessions, ranging from how American wine critics rate wines (at the office, not at the winery) to how central Asian wine markets work, with Artem Lebedov showing how he helps build Almaty into a regional wine hub. And Star Wine List shared its insights into how the Scandinavian restaurant wine markets work (we'll publish a story on this soon, sign up to our newsletter if you are interested).
It's the first real edition after the pandemic and I think we have good energy.
"A lot of people come back every year for the networking,” said Kim. “ Sharing wine business ideas is the motto, and that is what it's about. It's the first real edition after the pandemic and I think we have good energy.”
But how does she envisage the next 10 years of the event developing? "I hope to be alive in 10 years!” she joked. “But seriously, I'd love to have more younger participants here. This year already a lot of producers are sending their sons or daughters, I love that. They tell me their dad is sorry that he could not make it. I'm like: I'm so happy your dad isn't here! Number one: They don't speak English. Two: You are the next generation, you are the future. So I really would love to attract more of the next generation - that is kind of my ambition."
A wine aficionado, Kim says that as she travels so much that when she returns to Verona, her adopted hometown, that her favourite place to drink is at home. “I love to be at home, I know it sounds very boring! But I travel so much like yourself, and drink wine with my meal every day!”
However, were she interested in exploring what wine options the city has to offer, she could always turn to Star Wine List's guide to Verona which wine2wine partnered with to produce.
"This was great because people ask me all the time where I should go,” said Kim. “ It's great for all the participants."
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