Five normally competing New World wine-producing nations - Argentina, Chile, South Africa, California and New Zealand - are once again actively collaborating to present a series of top speakers and programme events at Down2Earth, their combined show-within-a-show at ProWein 2011.

Down2Earth seminar participants already confirmed for next year’s jointly staged initiative from March 27 to 29, include Lynne Sheriff MW, who heads the Institute of Masters of Wine; climate change specialist and wine writer, Pancho Campo MW; Dr Monika Christmann, who heads the department of oenology and wine technology at the Geisenheim Research Institute; economist and wine writer Jürgen Mathäß; as well as Felicity Carter, editor-in-chief of Wine Business International.

Following on this year’s highly successful inaugural Down2Earth where seminars and workshops drew capacity crowds and long waiting lists to attend, the organisers will be arranging lectures, seminars, workshops and tastings highlighting issues of eco-sustainability, and signature grape varieties as well as innovation in wine-growing, winemaking, marketing, sales and distribution. The intention is also to extend taste boundaries with exciting food and wine matching.

Presenters will include academics, producers and marketers. The participating countries also plan to feature some of their top-rated 90+ wines that sommeliers as well as retailers and other delegates will be able to sample.

As part of the programme, participants will be presenting some of their fresh, original and very creative responses to the major challenges of the global wine industry’s changing physical, economic and marketing environment.

All five countries or regions had been exploring ways to more clearly articulate a taste of place in their wines and had been looking at how to reduce their impact on the environment, from the choice of growing sites and cultivars to viticultural and cellar techniques; by conserving scarce or non-renewable resources and developing new packaging solutions.

The debut Down2Earth proved that competitor regions can work in concert for the greater good. One does this by showcasing the very best features of what sets us apart from the traditional wine-producing regions. We focus on how we approach issues such as climate change and the growing pressure on natural resources, as well as the global advent of more conservative consumer spending and the pursuit of value across the pricing spectrum.

This year’s ProWein attracted record crowds of over 36 000 trade delegates from around the world. Even though the seminar programme ran four times daily throughout the three-day event, the organisers could not meet the demand. “This was a pilot concept,” said Su Birch, CEO of Wines of South Africa, “We had hoped for a good turnout but the response far exceeded our expectations. For almost all presentations, we had to turn people away.”