Cheese and wine events



Daniel Negrescu, co-organizer of Romanias stand at Prowein Dusseldorf: Without continuous, and enduring support of the government in promotion, no wine brand from any nation, whether large or small, has achieved success in the international market.

In March 2024, 21 Romanian wineries made an effort to participate in Prowein Dusseldorf, one of the world's largest wine trade fairs in the industry, after promises of support from state authorities collapsed. Under APEV Romania, Mihnea Olariu, Carmen Văsioiu, Dumi Ghiuri, and Daniel Negrescu, with the support of those without whom the project would not have existed—Aurelia Vișinescu Wines, Domeniile Averești, Budureasca, Crama Ceptura, Caii de la Letea, Cotnari, Familia Darabont, Davino, Crama DeMatei, Domeniile Franco-Române DFR, Domeniul Bogdan, Dropia Wines, Crama Gîrboiu, Crama Hermeziu, Jidvei, Liliac, Viile Metamorfosis, Murfatlar Vinul, Crama Oprișor, Crama Rasova, Domeniile Sâmburești—managed to reopen the idea of a country brand based on Romanian wine.


"The initial concept, from which both the stand design and the communication umbrella resulted, started from some simple objectives: to be disruptive, revolutionary, different, nonconformist. Drawing from the previous experience of the producers, where the exclamation 'Wait, Romania makes wine?!' was common to all who visited the Romania stand, we realized that we needed to embrace this perception and exploit it as creatively as possible. This is how we arrived at the slogan 'Yes, Romania makes wine.', which takes the current perception to the next level with a strong affirmation," explained the four co-organizers of Romania's stand at Prowein Dusseldorf in a press release they named MANIFEST.




"In addition, we decided that the best strategy for the stand design is to go for 'reverse psychology,' in which, if all the stands at the fair are open, Romania's stand should be a 'box' that delimits and encapsulates the 'world of Romanian wine,' and transform it into a MEGA-Experience Object. An object that sparks controversy, curiosity, and invites people to enter and discover Romanian wine. The initial concept and marketing strategy included a much more complex branding, immersive experiences, headphones with music, etc., so that the impact with the world of Romanian wine would be maximal," the organizers add regarding the details of Romania's stand.


At its 30th anniversary, ProWein 2024 welcomed 47,000 registered visitors from 135 countries and 5,400 exhibitors from 65 countries. ProWein is the only international trade fair for wines and spirits that comprehensively covers the entire global market. Today, ProWein Dusseldorf is the largest and most important trade fair for wines and spirits in the world.


APEV Romania, the Association of Producers and Exporters of Wines from Romania, groups together the most important wine exporters in the country, who together hold approximately 70% of Romania's total wine exports. Its members also hold about 70% of the domestic market.


APEV Romania was established in 2001 as a non-profit legal entity, intended to represent, defend, and promote the rights and interests of its members, both locally and internationally. At this moment, APEV is going through a transformation stage towards a collective of visionaries who aim to reposition the image of Romanian wine internationally. Committed to collaboration and innovation, their mission is to conquer both the domestic and international market with Romanian wines and to reposition the country brand of Romanian wine in the global market.



As there have been numerous local discussions regarding Romania's participation at this fair, we engaged in a conversation with Daniel Negrescu, co-organizer of Romania's presence at Prowein Dusseldorf, to delve into the behind-the-scenes of this project.


What were the main factors that led you to take the initiative to unite the wineries and form an alliance to participate in international fairs?

First of all, for any small, medium, and even large winery in Romania, it is the only way and the best way it can export. Secondly, many years and attempts of various kinds have passed, but no initiative or association so far has managed to do something coherent that would bring results for Romanian wine. We believe that this is an opportune moment in all respects, and perhaps this is the right moment for Romanian wine. This moment should not be waited for but created. And that's what we're trying to do now.


How was the initiative received by the participating wineries and what were their main reasons for joining this movement?

Given the past I mentioned above, the first reaction was skepticism. It's normal. No one wants to waste their time and resources on all sorts of initiatives that have mostly turned out to be smoke and mirrors. However, this time when wineries were called to join the project, it was not just about promises but also about actions. APEV came with a proposal for a reconstruction plan, negotiations with the state for funding were advanced, and participation in Prowein Dusseldorf was better set than ever. A larger space had already been rented, in a better position than in the past, a promotional contract with Decanter was set, all already partially paid for and assumed in the APEV's new project idea. These facts, I believe, convinced the wineries to come to the first meeting. Once gathered, things became a bit simpler because there was a common need for export promotion, and as I mentioned earlier, a single winery cannot do it alone, so the idea of an association is the only option, and APEV came with the proposal.


To what extent do you believe that this cooperation between wineries under the umbrella of APEV Romania has influenced the cohesion and solidarity in the Romanian wine industry?

Looking back just 6-9 months ago, we can say that it's a very good start in this direction. Surely one of the main achievements of the APEV project through participation in Prowein Dusseldorf is that it created a united group of wineries, perhaps the most united one that has ever existed. We must see this as a favorable start that we need to expand, grow as much as possible, so that a significant percentage of wineries in Romania join this project. Moreover, the fact that there is already communication about what is happening from your side, from the communicators in the industry, is also a gain.


What benefits does this extended collaboration bring to the participating wineries and to the overall image of Romanian wine?

The benefits come in two main directions. One direction is what I call the "strength of the group," namely, the fact that the united resources of several wineries bring infinitely greater benefits than individual initiatives. And here it's not only about money and time but also about representation. The larger the group, the stronger it will be, and its initiatives and negotiations with authorities cannot be ignored, but supported. The other important direction is for consumers and business partners. And in this case, the synergy of group collaboration gives strength and credibility to the message of Romanian wine. The more unified we are in conveying a powerful message, the wider its reach will be, ultimately granting Romanian wine an identity and solid values over time. This paves the way for the establishment of a distinct Romanian wine brand.


How did the team cope with the withdrawal of state funding for participation in Prowein 2024 and how did you mobilize to gather the necessary budget?

We have to acknowledge that it was an extremely challenging moment because we hadn't anticipated the scenario where the state entirely withdrew its support. While we were ready to receive funding later, based on past experiences, we certainly didn't expect to receive none at all. But at the beginning of January 2024, the news that the Romanian Agency for Investments and Foreign Trade (ARICE) no longer had the necessary budget came. Subsequently, we laid out the potential options on the table and scrutinized them with complete honesty. One possibility was to abstain from further participation, resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of euros and sending a disastrous signal for Romania and our wine industry.

The alternative was to mobilize the necessary funds and participate to the best of our abilities with the limited resources we had, although both options were extremely challenging given our time constraints. The initial step involved reaching out to wineries, outlining the situation, and presenting our plan to secure the required budget for participation, as well as taking on the responsibility for stand production and communication/branding within an exceptionally tight timeframe. This marked the moment when the group rallied together. While some wineries opted out, the remaining 21 formed the core of this project, leading to an intense and remarkably engaging process.


The project team is very young and very motivated. What does teamwork mean for such a project, especially since each of you already has a full-time job? And why did you name the post-event press release "manifest"?

I believe there were several factors that enabled this project to come to fruition. These include: the emergence of a "new" generation within the wine industry, characterized by drive, energy, and an open-minded approach; the announcement of state funding cuts, which served as the pivotal "bad news" that galvanized the group; and the sheer determination of the four individuals who spearheaded the project, regardless of the potential risk of failure.

And YES, IT IS A MANIFEST because despite all the barriers and limitations that appeared, we laid the foundations of a project that we want to grow. It's important to remember that participation in Prowein Dusseldorf involved 21 wineries that financed the endeavor entirely from their own funds. Additionally, these individuals, who also hold other jobs, dedicated extra effort to this project alongside their existing commitments. And that's what we want our MANIFEST to be, through which we try to convince the public partner (the state, through its institutions) that we are determined, energetic, and it is mandatory to join us to make this project one through which Romanian wine finds its way into the international market.




How was Romania's nonconformist stand at Prowein 2024 received and what was the impact of the slogan "Yes, Romania makes wine."?

Romanian wine urgently requires a distinctive identity and a novel approach to gain visibility swiftly. Despite our pride in a millennia-old tradition, being the sixth-largest producer in Europe, twelfth globally, boasting over 180,000 hectares of vineyards, and other seemingly promising statistics, the reality is that Romanian wine remains largely unknown. The common inquiry faced by any winery at external events echoes: "Does Romania even produce wine?" Whether we embrace it or not, this is the unvarnished truth we must confront.


Drawing from this reality, we envisioned the communication of Romanian wine at Prowein to be disruptive, revolutionary, and nonconformist, both in stand design and branding. It needed to be attention-grabbing and provocative, sparking debate and controversy. Reflecting on the outcome at the Prowein booth, as well as the response on social media and online platforms, it's evident that we achieved our communication objectives, with the impact surpassing our initial expectations. Moreover, the ensuing discussions provided valuable feedback akin to a comprehensive research study, which we intend to leverage in the future. It's crucial to recognize that this marks just the beginning of a journey. Tangible results will emerge through continued effort and dedication, rather than isolated moments.


What is more, it's good to know that the stand design and branding were carried out to about 60% of the concept level due to the limited budget of time and money.


How does the team see its evolution in the medium and long term in promoting Romanian wine internationally and what strategies does it have in this regard?

First of all, we must somehow take advantage of the current moment in the international market. There is more interest than usual in wines from this part of the world, including Eastern Europe, where we are. The tide of generations is shifting, and experimentation, including within the realm of wines, is gaining popularity. It's imperative that we seize this opportunity and find a way to ride this wave. As for our strategy, as mentioned earlier: our initial step is to assert our presence and ensure visibility. Subsequently, maintaining consistent communication is paramount. We must identify the steady progression through which to continuously build upon our efforts. In the long run, we'll need to imbue the Romanian wine brand with added value.


What are the next planned actions by APEV to attract more wineries and to raise awareness among public authorities about the importance of supporting the Romanian wine industry? And where will your next action be?

The answer to this question is being built now. These days, we will have a meeting with all members to establish/approve the next steps, both in relation to the authorities and communication. We need to build the structure of the association, both leadership and executive, to ensure that things happen every day to achieve the objectives.


After the discussions at Prowein, how do you see Romanian wine in the context of the international market?

As I said before, we have noticed this major opportunity in the international market to redirect attention to lesser-known, experimental wines, of which we are also a part. We need to clearly define our target markets and communicate consistently and constantly so that the process is successful in the medium and long term.


How do you see Romania's participation in the next international events and how do you think this experience will influence the global image of Romanian wine in the short and long term?

Should we succeed in our objective to engage the public sector in the APEV initiative, the reputation of Romanian wine is poised to flourish, both locally and globally. In the immediate future, we've sent a signal, wrote a manifesto, and the primary impact it can have is gathering new wineries to join APEV and fostering a public-private partnership.

It is very important for everyone to understand that without continuous, and enduring support of the government in promotion, no wine brand from any nation, whether large or small, has achieved success in the international market.



Revino Team



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