Bastian Mingers recently stepped into the role of a lifetime. He is now Global Head of Wine & Spirits and Director of ProWein, the world’s largest beverage trade show.
“It’s a dream job because it’s the most interesting and fun project the trade show industry in Düsseldorf has to offer,” says Mingers. “It’s super international, exhibitors and visitors are the nicest customers you can have…so it’s always a pleasure to talk to them…the close bonds you have with your exhibitors and visitors at ProWein are different from any other fair.”
He is also grateful for the chance to connect with other wine professionals in a friendly setting.
“When we are on a business trip, we are not sitting in an industrial area – we are sitting with our customers – our winemakers in their vineyards – and it is more interesting when you have the chance to travel the world and see all these beautiful places.
Although he’s not new to ProWein, having worked for the show for eight years, his love affair with wine dates back years. After high school, Mingers enrolled in a three-year apprenticeship in gastronomy and hospitality where he fell in love with wine.
“I worked in a restaurant [at the time] …but the [wine] that really got me into the wine game was a Riesling from Schloss Vollrads, which is an amazing Riesling,” says Mingers. “It’s a great wine, a great vineyard…and after that I started tasting different things and tasting all over the world. The rest is history.
Mingers is still in awe of the vastness and diversity of grapes and experiences available to him, not only as the manager of the most important international wine fair, but as a student of wine. He learns something new every day.
What do you wish you had known when you started working in the industry?
There is more diversity than expected. I knew there were a lot of different things going on and there were a lot of different grape varieties, but I come from a food background and we’re more focused on German wines. But then I learned how big the international wine world is, so it would have been interesting to know that in advance. it would have just done [wine] even more interesting from the start.
ProWein is back this year after a hiatus due to the pandemic. How did you decide the time was right to come back?
As trade show pros, we always believe in face-to-face meetings, and physical meetings are always better than anything digital. We also tried to have a show in 2021 but had to cancel as the situation was not improving. But now it turns out that things have become more open, there are more people who can do [coming to show the show] all over the world, citizens are getting used to wearing face masks…
March was a little too early to have a trade fair. It must be safe and successful, not just successful. So we decided to move it to May as we were sure that when it gets warmer things will lighten up a bit. And we learned recently that most of the restrictions in Germany have been lifted, making trade shows possible and a good time to come back. Even though we still have recommendations in place for ProWein… there are not these mandatory obligations and strict regulations in the market. So perfect timing to be back; and we have other partners and competitors in the market who have already held a successful trade show, and every successful trade show now is good for the whole industry. There was a concert in February in Paris, there was one in March in New York, and we were sure that May in Düsseldorf would be the perfect time now.
What kind of changes for ProWein will participants see this year?
Not much, actually. We are still very international and have wineries and exhibitors from 62 countries, so it is the same level of internationality that [we had] in 2019, which was the biggest Prowein ever. We have a pretty good footprint on the exhibitor side, we’ve widened the aisles up to 6 meters to make it a safe show, so what [people] will see this year are security protocols but not things that [the public] will have to do – but what methods the show will offer.
Normally ProWein is 2.5 meters wide [eight feet ] gone but we are now up to 6 meters [approximately 20 feet] to make it safe and a bit more spacious. We have a gastronomy space this year where there will be masterclasses especially for gastronomy; we’ll have a different show with craft stuff – craft beer, cider – stuff like that – which will be a highlight again this year; and of course attendees will see a complete change in the entire layout this year. Thus, each country has changed places for 2022, because we have included three additional halls in the Prowein layout.
Who is the most underrated person when it comes to drinks?
It’s a good question. I never cross paths with someone who is underestimated. I mean, all of our exhibitors at ProWein are pretty well known. There are smaller ones that do some really good things, but I wouldn’t say they’re underrated.
You are in a dive bar. What do you order?
If it’s here in Dusseldorf it would be an alpina and a killepitsch – it’s like a local herbal liqueur, which keeps you healthy, and if anywhere else in the world it would be a local beer or IPA on the faucet. Easy to drink.