The figure is still down on two years ago, but event director Ross Carter hailed the “buzz around the halls” and said exhibitors and visitors had rediscovered their enthusiasm for the fair after its 13-year spell at Excel in east London ended.
Tesco wine boss Dan Jago said: “I was delighted the fair was back at Olympia. People were much more energised about talking and selling.
“It felt edgy and when you looked at Esoterica and Brewhouse it was constantly buzzing. The stands were laid out well and were working well.
“There was a real vibe of energy and passion for product and good old-fashioned selling.
“Too many people compare this event to Prowein, but let’s make this about the UK - targeting all markets including the independents and on-trade. I had meetings all the way through yet it didn’t feel over-corporate.”
Ruth Yates, owner of Corks Out, added: “It was a refreshing change. I loved the fact there were so many smaller suppliers there . It’s a long time since I enjoyed the fair this much.”
Brintex cut fees in a bid to return the fair to growth and was rewarded as the number of exhibitors rose from 540 in 2013 to 780 this year.
Big names to return included Accolade Wines, Australian Vintage, De Bortoli Wines UK, Buckingham Schenk, Enotria Winecellars, Eurowines, Hallgarten Druitt, Mentzendorff, Patriarche Wines, PLB and Stevens Garnier.
Matt Douglas, managing director at Stevens Garnier, told OLN: “It’s been a very busy fair and there has been more than enough quality in buyers. We had lots of strategic meetings – Waitrose, Tesco, Harrods were here.”
PLB managing director John Osborne added: “We genuinely feel that there was a buzz about the fair this year and it has delivered sufficiently from a commercial perspective to make it a relevant fixture in our annual calendar.
“There is obviously room for improvement and we are confident that Ross Carter [event director] will deliver an even better experience in 2015.”
Patrick McGrath MW, managing director at Hatch Mansfield, said: “I am positive about the fair this year. I think Ross Carter has done a great job. He has brought everybody back but he has also allowed smaller companies to get involved via Esoterica.
“It brings in people who can’t afford the cost of a unit and don’t want the hassle of taking a unit.
“It’s been very successful, catering for all needs. We have done a lot of business and been very busy.”
Jo Wehring, UK market manager at Wines of South Africa, said: “Our stand has been busy and a number of our producers looking for European importers have had success at the show.”
Anne Burchett, managing director at Sopexa, added: “The British trade’s and the exhibitors’ thirst for a rejuvenated and re-energised national wine trade fair have been comprehensively answered in the past three days.”
Carter said he had listened to a demand for change from the trade and that Brintex had delivered “beyond even our high expectations”.
He said: “Exhibitors put their faith in our ability to host a world-class trade event, and I’d like to think we achieved that and more. We’re already working up plans to make further improvements in 2015 and I’m confident that they’ll be equally well received.”