The Beautiful South event at Londons Olympia today

The Beautiful South event at London's Olympia today

People always enjoy a good moan about trade events. And so it proved at The Beautiful South today (12 September).

The inaugural two-day London show, bringing together around 300 producers from South Africa, Chile and Argentina, felt impressively busy as just-drinks walked the floor. But chatting to folk behind the low-key desks (no fancy stands at this show) at Olympia the feelings towards the mega-tasting were mixed. 

Sebastian Gonzalez, export manager at Argentinian producer Valcosta Estate, was hoping to find a UK importer at the show, but so far his search has been fruitless. “We’ve not met any importers and I was expecting more people,” he tells me. “But the organisation has been good and I’m quite happy with the venue.”

Meanwhile, John Passmore of South African producer Drift Farm was more phlegmatic about his experience. “Our main focus here was just exposure and establishing the brand,” he said. “The footfall’s been adequate, but I’m not sure about the venue, it’s a bit bitty and like a warehouse.” 

To complete the trio, I spoke to Scott Malyon of Ellis of Richmond, which handles eight Chilean labels. “We’ve been a bit disappointed by the footfall and the venue is a bit one-dimensional,” he said. “But it’s the first time they’ve done it and we’ve done a bit of business. And I’m impressed by the variety of producers here.” 

Arguably, the organisers have only ever advertised the event externally as a tasting, so you can't really expect bells and whistles in that respect. 

And despite the quibbles, all three exhibitors I spoke to said they would return next year if the event were held again. Perhaps The Beautiful South just needs a little time?