Domingos Meirelles, Portuguese born in Angola, has been living for 6 years in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He studied International Trade in Portugal, did his MBA in Sao Paulo, and finally the OIV Masters in International Wine Management to gain a broader perspective on the wine world. He is now the Director of Expovinis Brasil and personally dedicated to promoting Brazilian wine culture and generally pushing the country onto the global wine playing field. I recently caught up with him on a trip to Santiago, Chile visiting local wine producers and was able to ask him about the Brazilian market and the significance of Expovinis which is rapidly approaching.

Can you describe wine expo? (Who participates? Who attends? What is the size?)

We are expecting between 16 to 20 thousands visitors. The types of visitors we have are trade professionals and the public. We have 2 different schedules; professionals can see the exhibit from 2pm to 10pm, and general public can attend between 7pm until 10pm.

Over 80% of the visitors are professionals. They enter for free. Our target is smaller importers that can’t enter the show as exhibitors. Also attending are distributors, wine retailers, restaurants owners, sommeliers, educators, journalists, and anyone else related to the business

The general public that attends is primarily Brazilian wine lovers that are willing to pay around $35 USD to get in the show.

There are about 250 direct exhibitors representing over a thousand wineries. Importers from Brazil make up 45% of the exhibitors, 30% are Brazilian producers, and 25% are producers that want to enter the market directly (from France, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, South Africa, USA).

Which countries are represented in the exhibits?

All of the wine producing countries in the world are represented, either directly exhibiting in the show, or represented by an importer.

Can you give a snapshot of the Brazilian wine market today?

The consumption is still very low, its under 3 liters per capita, however it’s growing and the Brazilian market is very open to every wine.

Although Brazilian wines are improving a lot in the last few years, and there are very good Brazilian projects such as Miolo and Salton, wine is not reaching the level of other producing countries especially concerning the red wines. But on the other hand sparkling wines from Brazil are very competitive internationally. Brazilians are drinking this and know it is quality wine.

Which wines do Brazilians prefer to drink?

Generally Brazilians prefer to drink red wine, but still sparkling and whites play an important role especially since Brazil is a hot country.

For example, Christmas and New years is in the hot summer months when it’s more comfortable to be drinking white and sparkling wines.

The top imported wines Brazilians drink are coming from Chile, Argentina, Portugal, France, and Italy.

What is the significance of this Wine Expo for the global wine community?

The importance is recognizing the Brazilian market. Brazil is one of the few markets that produces wine and the consumption per capita is increasing each year. In an industry with too much supply, Brazil might be one of the up and coming countries to re-establish a balance. The market is still relatively small, but many countries are looking with high expectations to export to this country. This event is like a window into the Brazilian wine market.

How many years has the Expo been running? Besides increasing in size, how is the Expo developing with each year?

We are in the 12th edition this year. The biggest increase was in the last 4 to 5 years- regarding size and international relevance. Besides increasing the show with more diverse exhibitors and more visitors, every year we try new types of tastings with international press. Also we developed contests within the show to promote not only the wine culture in Brazil but also to promote Brazilian wines.

What goes on during the event?

What we are trying to accomplish is business, for our exhibitors and our visitors. All exhibitors are showing the new vintages and new brands, and lots of networking going on.

Apart from that we still open a few hours for the general public because we want to promote the wine culture that many Brazilians have not embraced yet.

Consumption in Brazil is still very seasonal, meaning they drink more wine in the winter (which is from June to September), as well as during the Christmas/New Years holidays (late December). That is why it’s so important that the event is this time of year – business wise, since everybody is renewing their stock which in turn will guide consumer consumption.

How does the Expovinis Brasil compare to London Wine Fair, Vinexpo Bordeaux, or New York Wine Experience?

This event is a very professional and vast in size. I think it’s the biggest in size of the whole Americas. I would compare it more to the London Wine Fair, because the market is more open as in the UK as opposed the French or Italian markets.

As the Director of the Expo, what are your main objectives?

First and foremost, is to develop the wine culture in Brazil and of course to increase the wine consumption.

Also we organize the show and we are passionate about wine so we strongly believe that Brazil can follow the US path and become one of the biggest wine consuming countries within 20 years.

Just remember that consumption in America in the 70s was also at 3 liters per capita, and we strongly believe Brazil could follow in their footsteps. And within 20 years play an important role in the global wine market.

What skills are essential for doing your job successfully?

For sure being passionate about wine. It’s important to be able to do a lot of research (through reading and traveling) in order to better understand the market and forecast the trends.

You are preparing all year, but what is the busiest, most important time for you?

As in any event, no matter how meticulously you prepare yourself, the days of the event are the most important because anything can happen.

It’s impossible to relax during those three days, that’s why as soon as the expo finishes I can’t wait to get to an empty beach where I can’t read emails or answer calls. I just drink a caipirinha for a change while I refuel for next year’s expo.