San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

ExpoVino Costa Rica: the cornucopia of fine wines

It’s official: Wine is big in Costa Rica. The country may not specialize in growing, pressing, fermenting or bottling grapes, but imported labels are all the rage. ExpoVino Costa Rica attracted thousands of guests on Wednesday, packing the Hotel Real InterContinental in Escazú where the event took place.

The Expo opened its doors to the public at 1 p.m., and soon a queue of connoisseurs filled the hotel lobby. Still more guests struggled to park outside, and after-work drivers glutted the highway for miles.

This was a remarkable turnout, given that Wednesday’s events were reserved entirely for industry professionals and the press. (Thursday and Friday were declared open to the general public.) From appearances, oenologists are everywhere.


ExpoVino Director Karl Hempel discusses international wine imports before a group of journalists.

Robert Isenberg

Admission to the event was $55, yet guests seemed to get their money’s worth: More than 80 wineries and associated businesses installed kiosks in the ExpoVino showroom. Sommeliers poured samples and explained their bottles’ unique origins. Guests were also treated to slices of cheese, cured meats, pieces of chocolate and other hors d’oeuvres. A dozen different countries were represented, including such famed national vintners as France and Chile, plus one winery from Israel.

Before the Expo began, organizers gave a special presentation for the press in an adjacent ballroom. ExpoVino Director Karl Hempel discussed wine imports in Costa Rica, and then four distributors showcased a wine of choice, each glass paired with an appropriate dish.

ExpoVino Costa Rica was first held in 2008 in response to a growing local interest in all things wine. Seasoned attendants said that ExpoVino began as an intimate and semiformal wine tasting event, but it has metamorphosed into a hotly anticipated annual bonanza.


Eiswein and dessert: The perfect pairing?

Robert Isenberg

“Everybody wants to go to ExpoVino,” one taxista said, exasperated, as he fought his way through traffic. “I just hope they stay at the hotel, so they don’t drive after all that wine.”

ExpoVino continues through Fri., Oct. 25, at the Hotel Real InternContinental, Escazú, southwest of San José, from 3-9 p.m. Entry is $55. Info:

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Wine distributor Pedro Verdu describes his business and the unique qualities of his wine.

Robert Isenberg


A server removes emptied sample glasses from the tables.

Robert Isenberg


A bowl of Bellini bottles on display on the ExpoVino exposition floor.

Robert Isenberg


Platters of cheeses and wines are distributed to ExpoVino guests.

Robert Isenberg


The exposition floor is crowded with connoisseurs of all stripes.

Robert Isenberg


These kidney bean-like hors d’oeuvres grow only in rural Spain.

Robert Isenberg

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that wine is not produced in Costa Rica. We have removed the sentence and apologize for the error.

Contact Robert Isenberg at

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