We met Helmuth Köcher at a recent Monsupello event, at the magnificent Castello di San Gaudenzio in Voghera. The Wine Hunter, enthusiastically announcing that he had awarded the classic method that was being presented on that very occasion, had approached the director of Consorzio Tutela Carlo Veronese to discuss the particular moment that the world of wine (and wine-related events) was experiencing, and had confided in him that he had a plan B if the Covid-19 did not allow the Merano Wine Festival 2020 to be held regularly. So it was. Plan B. Digital plan.

The Digital edition of Merano Wine Festival 2020 has been there and has kept us company during these difficult weeks for everyone, not only for Italians, and the smile, competence, safety and unspoilt passion of this Lord of Wine, The Wine Hunter HelmuthThey have been a professional comfort, a concrete support, even if only digital , and a promise that everything is and must continue.

Hence the idea to publish in full an interview with the brilliant inventor of the Merano Wine Festival, proposed by the communication staff of the Merano Wine Festival, which once again is full of reflections and energy, positive despite everything. A way to grow. Even with events in the usual way that there were not. But as always the glass is half full!

The digital edition of the 29th Merano WineFestival closes with a success of over 34 thousand views on the website meranowinefestival.com and the platform winehunterhub.com. More than 250 videos were broadcast over the five days, with 11 live talks, 86 Showcooking, Virtual Tours and Tastings, and numerous in-depth features on oenology, territories, producers, champagne and mixology. Ample space will be dedicated to the themes of digitalization and scientific innovation. The patron Helmuth Köcher talks about the event in an interview, in anticipation of the Merano edition scheduled from 26 to 30 March 2021.

Merano, 20 November 2020 - A different edition, completely digitalized, the 29th Merano WineFestivalhas just ended. To the restrictions caused by Covid-19 The WineHunter Helmuth Köcher has been able to respond with determination and an edition of Merano WineFestival digital that does not want to replace the Merano event postponed to 26-30 March 2021 but that, thanks to the opportunities offered by digital, has allowed to amplify the message and content, organizing on the one hand a virtual space dedicated to producers and on the other hand a schedule that for five days broadcast over 250 videos and numerous spaces dedicated to live comparison. The WineHunter Helmuth Köcher talks about the first fully digitalized Wine Food Spirits Beer event, waiting to return live in the beautiful Merano locations that will host the event in March 2021.

The one just finished was a new edition, a completely different experience both for The WineHunter and for the audience of operators, wine&food lovers and media who have been frequenting the Merano locations for many years. But how was this digital edition of the festival born and how did it develop?

Enriching the offer of Merano WineFestival on a digital level was already my intention in March, when my intention was to organize the event as usual in Merano. The idea was to amplify the experience for the visitors, recreating a virtual space dedicated to the producers, where you can find all the information about the companies and the products awarded by the guide The WineHunter Award and from which you can deepen, with the possibility to interact directly with the producers.

When it became essential to postpone the event on 19 October, I wanted to relaunch the event by adding a rich programme of events that would accompany the Merano WineFestival public for all five days.

It was a really intense experience that saw me involved in the production of over 400 videos presenting the companies present at Merano WineFestival and in numerous live moments of comparison such as those dedicated to The wine economy at the time of Covid-19 and Sustainable Ferments: sowing the future. And then Live Tastings with the producers, insights on Italian and international Wine Territories, moments of comparison on innovation and digital.

So how has your relationship with the digital world changed after the experience of these months?
Until March I didn't have many direct experiences in the digital world, I found it an interesting topic to develop, but until then I always gave priority to travel and direct meeting and tasting experiences. Since March, however, it has become the only way to communicate and I wanted to take advantage of it by taking all possible opportunities. We organized conferences, live talks, interviews and even a series of Business Tasting meetings dedicated to the operators at Gourmet's International, where I moderated and the different producers presented their wines.

This led me to be ready in the fall, when together with my team we found ourselves setting up the entire festival schedule in a very short time. The result was a unique event that was appreciated by the public and that thanks to the platform created will continue to give visibility and provide content that can be consulted from now until the end of March 2021, creating a bridge between the digital event and the one in presence. The virtual exhibition and the entire schedule will remain visible and new content will be added; this will allow to arrive at the March event with greater awareness and knowledge. I think it has been a great opportunity for the whole wine&food sector that in recent years I have always wanted to support with my activity.

Is this why digitization and innovation are themes that have had ample space in the Merano WineFestival digital programme schedule?
Definitely. If there is one thing that the pandemic has accelerated, it is the processes of digital transformation, for which Italian companies are sometimes still poorly prepared. For this reason, like The WineHunter, I wanted to promote a series of interventions dedicated on the one hand to digitization, in particular linked to the market positioning of small and medium companies, and on the other hand to innovation in the scientific field with the provision of a series of studies particularly interesting for producers. To collaborate for the creation of the Innovation space were the publishing house IVES for the presentation of scientific studies, H-FARM on digitization and Connected Reality which deals with augmented reality, presenting content of great value.

The Merano WineFestival will take place from 26 to 30 March and from 5 to 9 November 2021 in Merano for the 30th Merano WineFestival...
Yes, 2021 will be a year that will see a double appointment in Merano. From 26 to 30 March the 29th edition of the festival will take place as it was planned for this year, with the utmost respect for the rules and safety. I wanted to plan it for spring, a season that marks the rebirth of nature and, I hope, a new time for all of us. And then the autumn edition, which from 5 to 9 November 2021 will see the event cross an important milestone, that of thirty years, which we want to celebrate while remaining faithful to the motto Excellence is an attitude and with an eye to the future that has led us with courage and confidence to overcome the difficulties.