Bastian Mingers recently stepped into the role of a lifetime. He is now the 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 that the trade show industry in Dusseldorf has to offer,” says Mingers. “It’s super international, the exhibitors and visitors are the nicest clients you can have…so it’s always a joy to talk to them…the close connections you have with your exhibitors and visitors at ProWein are different than any other trade fair.”
He is grateful for the chance to connect with other wine professionals in a convivial setting, too.
“When we’re on a business trip we are not sitting in some industrial area—we’re sitting together with our clients—our vintners in their vineyards—and it’s more interesting when you have the chance to travel the world and see all these lovely places.”
Though not new to ProWein, as he has now worked for the fair for eight years, his love affair with wine dates back years. After high school, Mingers enrolled in a three-year gastronomy and hotel apprenticeship where he fell in love with wine.
“I was working 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 incredible Riesling,” says Mingers. “It’s a great wine, a great vineyard…and after that I started tasting different things and tasting around the world. The rest is history.”
Mingers is still in awe of the vastness and diversity of grapes and experiences that are afforded to him, not only as the helm of the most important international wine fair, but as a student of wine. He learns something new every day.
What do you wish you knew when you started working in the industry?
There’s more diversity than anticipated. I knew that there were a lot of different things going on and that there were many different grape varieties, but I’m from a gastronomy background and we’re pretty focused on German wines. But then I learned how big the international wine world is, so that would have been interesting to know beforehand. It would have just made [wine] even more interesting right from the start.
ProWein is back this year after a hiatus due to the pandemic. How did you decide the time was right to return?
We as trade show people 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 we had to cancel because the situation didn’t get any better. But now it turned out that things became more open, there are more people that can make [coming to show the show] All over the world, the citizens are getting to be used to wearing face masks…
March was a bit too early to have a trade show. It needs to be safe and successful, not only successful. So, we decided to move it to May because we were sure that when it becomes warmer, things will brighten up a little bit. And we learned recently that most of the restrictions in Germany have been lifted, so that makes trade fairs possible and makes it the right time to return. Even though we still have recommendations in place for ProWein mandatory…there are not these duties and strict regulations in the market. So perfect timing to be back; and we have other partners and competitors in the market who successfully did a show already, and each trade show that is successful right now is good for the whole industry. There was a show in February in Paris, there was one in March in New York, and we were sure that May in Dusseldorf would be perfect timing now.
What sorts of changes to ProWein will attendees see this year?
Not much, actually. We still are very international and have wineries and exhibitors from 62 countries, so this is the same level of internationality that [we had] in 2019, which was the largest Prowein ever. We have pretty good footprint on the exhibitor side, we have widened the aisles up to 6 meters to make it a safe show, so what [people] will see this year are safety protocols but not things that [the public] will have to do– but what methods the show will offer.
Normally ProWein has 2.5-meter-wide [eight feet ] aisles but we’re now up to 6 meters [approximately 20 feet] to make it safe and bit more spacious. We have a gastronomy area this year where there will be masterclasses especially for the gastronomy; we will have a different show with craft things—craft beer, cider—stuff like that –that will be a highlight this year again; And of course, the attendees will see a complete shift in the whole layout this year. So, each and every country changed places for 2022, as we included three additional halls to the Prowein layout.
Who’s the most underrated person in drinks?
That’s a good question. I never cross paths with someone who is underrated. I mean, all of our exhibitors at ProWein are pretty well known. There are smaller ones doing really good stuff, but I wouldn’t say that they are underrated.
You’re at 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 herb liquor, which keeps you healthy by the way, and if somewhere else around the world, it’d be a local brew or IPA on the tap. Easy drinking.