Yesterday afternoon, roughly 150 Taste of Italy Houston participants gathered in a conference room at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for talks by three U.S.-based food and wine professionals, a buffet dinner, and a meet-and-greet.
Afterwards, they had a free hour to tour the show, which includes prize-winning livestock, ranching product showcases, and a wide array of Western wear vendors.
And then, of course, they attended the rodeo and concert, which featured country music star Chris Young.
During the conference, importer and consultant (and frequent partner of the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce Texas) Niccolo Lorimer (above) offered his insights into the convoluted world of Italian food and wine imports in the U.S.
One of his main points was that every state in the U.S. has different regulations for the importation of European food products and that each state and its importing model needs to be approached with that in mind.
He also spoke of the growing importance of “direct-to-consumer” sales channels and how they are changing the landscape for food and wine producers and their representatives.
To reach Niccolo, send him an email at email@example.com.
With the aid of an interpreter, Robert Gilroy, a Houston-based manager for Moët Hennessey and the head judge of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition (above) also addressed the crowd.
Because of its immense popularity and the media attention it receives, the competition generates tremendous interest in the winners and runners up in the competition.
The resulting sales are significant, he explained, because Houston is such a vibrant market for fine wine.
Contestants must have a commercial presence in Texas and most wines are submitted by the producers’ Texas-based distributors.
Italian wines have often won top prize, he noted.
Information on submissions can be found here.
The Italy-America Chamber of Commerce Texas blogger (yours truly) also addressed the group. I’ll share my notes in an upcoming post…