The organisers of the London Wine Fair have announced that the 2021 show will now take place virtually.

The decision was taken in light on the ongoing uncertainty around Covid-19, and in consultation with exhibitors, the Association of Event Organisers and Olympia.

At the start of the year, organisers had planned to announce a hybrid event, combining both live and digital elements, but due to current circumstances the move was taken to go 100% digital earlier this week.

The digital platform will create a fully immersive event, which will allow exhibitors and visitors to engage on a one-to-one basis, in larger groups and across the whole London Wine Fair audience.

Exhibitors will have a virtual stand, which can be tailored to specific requirements, with options such as feature imagery, tasting notes, launch news, winemaking team videos, virtual winery tours and access to bookable meetings.

Added upgrades will allow exhibitors to send out samples to specific visitors, including buyers, key decision makers and wine writers.

Meanwhile, the virtual layout will replicate the live event, and will involve splitting into digital rooms, where industry briefings, seminars and masterclasses will take place. Exhibitors can be filtered by zone, such as Esoterica or Wines Unearthed, to recreate the sense of a live event.

Industry briefings will be live, with real time Q&As, and visitors will be able to access recorded editions in their own time. The schedule will provide a rich resource for issues pertinent in the UK and the international industry at present, with topics such as Brexit, Covid-19, Climate Change and global trading conditions all on the bill.

A programme of Tasting Masterclasses will also be accessible, with pre-booking advised in order to ensure samples can be delivered in advance.

Commenting on the decision, Head of London Wine Fair, Hannah Tovey said: “Since we already had to postpone the 2020 show, we have had contingency plans in place for 2021, so that the entire event could switch from a hybrid one or to fully digital as necessary, and we have had to keep an open mind on this.”

She added: “We are already turning our thoughts towards the 2022 event, which we fully expect to be “business as usual”, hosted at Olympia and within our regular mid-May dates. We expect there may be several elements of the 2021 digital show which will only enhance the live 2022 edition and will be looking to incorporate these where they can add value.”

The 2021 London Wine Fair will take place between 17-19 May.