10 vragen aan James Murray

door Charlotte van Zummeren

Over twee weken begint de London Wine Fair. Een mooie reden om de directeur organisatie – event director – van de LWF een aantal vragen te stellen. Verrassend genoeg blijkt James Murray te houden van de wijn van de in West Sussex gevestigde Nederlander Eric Heerema.

How many years are you involved with the organization of the LIWF?

I joined Brintex in 2002 and can’t believe that this will be my 8th Fair already.

Is your job a full-time through the year occupation?

I have one other project, which is completely unrelated to wine (DIY) but 80% of my time is spent on the LIWF and Distil.

 Have you always been working in the wine business?
No, my background has always been exhibitions but I have been lucky and always found myself working on food and drink events, something that I have a real connection with.

Is the work for the LIWF getting tougher, considering the recession?
There is no doubt that things are tougher.  It is an extremely competitive market place and the recession has a direct impact on consumer spending.  Companies are looking harder than ever at to how they promote themselves in all forms of marketing and events.  Thankfully, the Fair has always maintained a business focus and is seen by many as an excellent platform for global trade.

Do you think it is a disadvantage to organize an event like this in a non or very small wine country?
Definitely not! One of the advantages of the Fair is that it is not dominated by one country and offers a neutral overview of wine producers from around the world; no other international event can do this.

Do you experience a good collegial cooperation with the big fairs in Bordeaux, Düsseldorf and Verona?
I think there is a healthy respect amongst the show organizers and we are all genuinely looking to help grow the wine business and deliver returns for our participants.  Equally, we have very different events and it goes without saying that if you have to make a choice, the LIWF is the Fair to be at!

Can you explain in two sentences why professionals should come to the LWF?
Whether you produce wine, import wine, retail wine or serve wine, the London International Wine Fair is about discovery, creating opportunity and bettering your business.It’s as if the global wine business has come together for three days in London.

To get a room in a hotel nearby the fair, one has to reserve for three nights. Why is that?
The subject of minimum number of night stays at exhibition and conference venues is often a subject that get’s blown out of proportion. It’s true to say that some brand hotels anywhere in the world, try to capitalise on the demand and attempt to force certain conditions on the audience. But these hotels are in the minority. For instance Baxter Hoare our hotel contractor for LIWSF features 18 hotels in the locality of Excel but only two hotels have a minimum stay period (navraag per email leert dat– ongeacht het hotel – een minimum verblijf van 3 nachten vereist is).

Do you think the LWF is or will be the place to be, like the Vinexpo?
I really believe that it already is the place to be.  In my opinion, Vinexpo is very much centred around the chateaux and the hospitality that surrounds this.  We can’t replicate that and this has helped us to become an event that is focused entirely around commerce, which in these tough times, is exactly what the trade needs and wants.

What is your biggest pride in this year’s fair?
It’s our 30th anniversary so, whilst I can’t take the credit, it’s a remarkable achievement.  Over the years the Fair has constantly evolved and will continue to do so and it’s great to be part of this process.

At last: what is your favorite sparkling wine?
This goes back to your point about the UK being a small wine producing nation.  We might be small but we are now producing some exciting wines.   My favorite memory is a Nytimber 1998 Blanc de Blancs from West Sussex in England.  It was fabulous and made even more enjoyable because I tried it alongside a number of buyers and MWs, who were stunned at how good it is.  It will be interesting to see if it makes it into our Top 30 Sparkling Wines this year, which we are running as part of our anniversary celebrations.


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