South Africa Variety Show a Hit at LIWF

Monday, 23 May, 2011
Peter F May
WOSA's innovative exhibition stand was a big attraction at this month's London International Wine Fair.
The hit of the three day London International Wine Fair, which ended 19 May, was the new Wines of South Africa (WOSA) stand.

In a major break from previous years wines were available in a welcoming self-serve format. Instead of individual winery stands each with a pourer behind the counter, visitors were invited to ‘help themselves’ from a large number of themed circular pods.

Playing on WOSA’s long running slogan Variety is in our Nature was a stand invoking a variety sideshow tent at a travelling circus.

Colourful pods had headings including Cheerful Chenins, Wonderful Wellington, Splendid Swartland and Stars of Tomorrow. At the stand’s corners were towers of clean glasses topped by bottles of mineral water with an invitation to ‘help yourself’.

Bottles on pods nestled in individual holders and underneath each were containers of business card with wine and contact details.

One side of the stand had that rarest of all things at the show, free seating for visitors to rest their feet which encouraged lingering on the stand, and continuing the variety show theme were full length fun distorting mirrors.

Not everyone liked the layout: some missed having a person behind the wine with whom they could speak about the wine however most that I spoke with found it liberating not to have to wait till a pourer was free before they could ask for a sample.

WOSA had some traditional individual stands including show stalwarts Johann Krige from Kanonkop and Simonsig’s Pieter Malan. Other South African wineries were represented on their agent’s stands and some, such as Distell and DGB had their own stands.

But the fact was that it was too expensive for many smaller wine farms to send representatives to London for three days to pour wines behind a stand and the WOSA Variety Show was a great way to exhibit wines which might not otherwise have gained exposure in London.

Sunday Express wine writer Jamie Goode wrote about LIWF: “Best stand? Wines of South Africa’s new concept stand. It’s just brilliantly thought out, with some wonderful wines arranged in little self-pour clusters according to different themes.”