Insights from the 4th Wine Future conference

In 2009, the Wine Future initiative was born, bringing together the foremost minds in the wine industry from the four corners of the world to find solutions and inspire those grappling with the challenges of viticulture.

Coimbra, Portugal as hosting city for the 4th Wine Future (Photo: Süer Okan,

The recent gathering featured key speakers, including Federico Falco, President of ViniPortugal, who declared, "We are being under attack in the wine trade."

Let's dive into this statement by looking at the agenda of the three-day conference in Coimbra, Portugal.

Digital Transformation and Climate Change Challenges

Pancho Campo, the founder of Wine Future, highlighted the industry's first challenge: participating in the digital transformation. According to Dr. Anabela Freitas, Vice President of Tourism in the Centro de Portugal, the digital landscape is essential to enhance companies' performance. One challenge identified was the impact of climate change.

Pancho campo kicking of the 4th Wine Future (Photo: Lotte Gabrovits)

José Manuel Silva, President of Camara Municipal de Coimbra, emphasized the historic significance of Coimbra, the first capital of over 100 years. The city, with its rich cultural heritage and traditions, faces challenges such as climate change, making it crucial for the wine industry to adapt.

Educating the Next Generation and Addressing Challenges in Ibero America

Federico Falco, the President of  Wines of Portugal underscored the importance of educating new generations about consuming alcohol responsibly. Amalia de Lizur López, International Youth Organization - Undersecretary, shed light on the challenges faced by young wine producers in Ibero America, particularly in Portugal, Spain, and South America, where wine production holds profound cultural significance.

The demand for sustainable products is on the rise globally, prompting innovative approaches to wine production with minimal environmental impact. The Regional Youth Conference in Bogota addressed climate change, a pressing issue affecting wine producers worldwide.

TikTok, Discord, and Paid Influencers - Reaching New Customers

Cristina Mercury, Presenter & Wine Educator, explored modern avenues such as TikTok, Discord, and influencer marketing to engage with consumers. She highlighted the importance of adapting content for different platforms and understanding the preferences of low and high-involved consumers.

Challenges and Opportunities in Wine Tourism

The discussion on wine tourism evolution featured insights from Adrian Bridge, CEO of The Fladgate Partnership, Catherine Lepparmentier, Managing Director of Great Wine Capitals Global Network, Marisah Nieuwoudt, Wine Tourism Manager - Vinpro, and Jorge Sampaio, Vice-Presidente Câmara Muncipal de Anadia. Wine tourism faces challenges in post-COVID times, balancing government promotion with health concerns. However, virtual tastings and innovative approaches help maintain substantial offerings.

Wine and Health: A Symbiotic Relationship

Dr. Laura Catena, of the famous Catena winery in Argentina, discussed the health benefits of wine consumption, emphasizing moderation and education. The positive effects on cardiovascular health and the importance of understanding moderation guidelines for different countries were highlighted.

Dr. Laura Catena on wine & health (Photo: Lotte Gabrovits)

From Rockstar to Businessman: Bruce Dickinson's Perspective

Bruce Dickinson, the frontman of the Power Metal band Iron Maiden, shared his unique perspective, emphasizing the passion and relationship consumers build with wine. He urged producers to foster honesty and integrity, drawing parallels between the music industry and winemaking.

Bruce Dickinson on the difference between fans and customers (Photo: Lotte Gabrovits)

The Power of Storytelling in Brand Communication

Alder Yarrow, Publisher of Vinography, Megan Greco, Wine Influencer / TV Presenter, Natalie Wang, Founder of Vino Joy News, and Ferrán Centelles from Bullipedia delved into the value of storytelling in brand communication. They emphasized the importance of relatability, authenticity, and finding the right storytellers to connect with diverse audiences.

Adapting to Changing Consumer Preferences

Lulie Halstead, Non-Executive Director - IWSR, and Cristina V. Miranda, World Bulk Wine Exhibition Marketing Manager, discussed the global perspective on changing consumer preferences, including a decline in wine consumption but growth in value. The panel highlighted the importance of engaging consumers with better wine and exploring new consumption moments.

Experts like David Allen MW, Wine Director at and Ian Ford, Co-founder of Summergate, discussed the evolution of the wine industry through data, digital strategies, and AI adoption. Alessandro Boccio, VP Marketing - Verallia, stressed the importance of eco-design to reduce, reuse, and recycle in bottle production.

More Inclusive, Less Exclusive: Diversity and Inclusion in the Wine Industry

Ntsiki Biyela, Winemaker at Aslina Wines and first female black winemaker of South Africa, Bento Amaral, Wine Inspiring Executive at Humanwinety company, which aims to empower and include minority groups in the wine and hospitality business, then Queena Wong, Founder - Curious Vines, who was named Connector of the Year in CODE Hospitality’s Women of the Year 2023 awards for her work in building a diverse community of women in the wine industry, and Mags Janjo, Founder - MJ Cellars, concluded the conference by addressing the need for inclusivity, diversity, and equity in the wine industry. They emphasized that embracing these principles is not just a challenge but an opportunity for growth.

As the Wine Future conference showcased, the industry faces multifaceted challenges, but with innovation, adaptation, and a commitment to sustainability, the future of wine looks promising and exciting.

by Lotte Gabrovits

Latest articles