Pre-Vinitaly: OperaWine, Verona, Setting Up

Verona, March, Vinitaly. Early, early, early. This year the fair seems to be particularly early and I’m here early too. Every year I come to Vinitaly in a different capacity. This year, I’m here to see my clients, my friends, as a writer and an explorer of all of the novita’ and there are many.

This odd photo above was taken yesterday during the set up day when producers get a few hours to prepare their stands before the big day arrives…today, March 25, the official opening of Vinitaly. It promises to be a complete whirlwind with lots of official seminars and tastings taking place. The dates have changed and there is one less day to get everything done. Sunday is the official start to the four-day fair. The trade seems happy with the change. The tassisti (taxi drivers) in the city less so but let’s see how it works out.

The set up was amazing. It’s hard to believe how much work goes into setting up this fair with its 15+ pavilions, 4200 wine producers, institutions, restaurants, olive oil and food producers.

As I always, I want to do and taste everything but you have to plan your day at Vinitaly otherwise, the days get away from you. One thing I like to do when I am at Vinitaly during the fair is take a walk in Verona, have a spritz at one of the local bars in Piazza delle Erbe and soak in the scene. This beautiful piazza was the center of city life and the site of the Roman forum during Roman times. It still plays that same role today.

Saturday was the Opera Wine event with the 100 Top Italian Wines chosen by the Wine Spectator. The event took place in an amazing building, Palazzo della Ragione, built between 1193-1196. That’s right, 800+ years old. It is without a doubt the most beautiful location I have ever been in for a tasting.

It was a lovely evening where I got to taste with my friend from our Milan journalist days, Eric Sylvers. We not only used to have the same financial journalist career (he still does) but we also went to the same graduate school, SAIS and a few years ago, I discovered we share a passion for wine. He and other journalists from Milan were doing a video of their tasting for an Italian paper. I will post the link when the send it to me. In the meantime, check out Eric’s blog, FoodieinItaly. I’m always starving and missing Italy when I read his posts. Nice to see you guys!

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