by Markus Stolz

Greek wine journey

byMarkus Stolz
March 6, 2013, 0 Comments

Quality, pricing, originality, storytelling and branding are all factors that influence wine sales.  This holds especially true when establishing new portfolios in markets abroad. The relationship with, and role of, the importer is equally important. Their organizational structure, size, goals, commitment, accessibility and human assets impact the rate of success. Similarly, the wineries’ selections are vital and go well beyond ‘only’ the product. Mutual trust, work ethics, support, patience and the human behind the label all rate highly in my book.

Having just returned from my three week business trip to the Americas, it seems like a good point in time to reflect. Winemaker Christos Zafeirakis accompanied me during the first two weeks. We split up most of the time in order to see more customers and expose more of the respective sales reps to work with us.

We spent six very busy days with my partner WineWise in California, not only seeing customers, but also having a number of consumer events. We visited San Francisco, the Bay Area, Marin County, Orange County and Los Angeles. The Greek portfolio in CA is a joy to present! All wines that are included are stylistically elegant, and more importantly, every wine fits in harmoniously. To quote Aristotle, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’ This is also true for storytelling purposes.

Over the last 18 months or so we have slowly increased the number of producers to now eight. Importantly, a solid number of wines retail between $10 and $15. Greek grape varieties dominate, Assyrtiko, Malagousia, Preknadi, Roditis and Savatiano for the whites, Agiorgitiko, Black of Kalavryta, Limniona and a special focus on Xinomavro for the reds. Sales have been increasing steadily, and on this occasion nearly twice as much Greek wine was delivered than on my first visit a year ago.

In terms of branding, we work with hand tied bottle tags that emphasize the close relationship with WineWise, please read here for more details or click the arrow in the image above to see both sides of the tags.

Our second week in New York was also very productive. Frederick Wildman started to work with direct imports from Greece one year ago. Currently four out of eight producers are sourced through me, including a number of high end wines. Dionysi Grevenetis is Wildman’s Greek portfolio manager, and the driving force behind the sales team for Greek wines.

In New York, the majority of Greek wines are traditionally sold to the Greek restaurant scene. Given the large number of sales people that Frederick Wildman employs, the potential to grow sales outside this existing customer segment is very real. I went out on consecutive days with talented and enthusiastic sales people, and the feedback and orders we received especially on the high end wines was more than encouraging. Danielle and Dave, it was a real pleasure to work with you!

I spent the last five days in Panama City to present Greek wines to local wine influencers and also make contact with potential importers. The wine influencers there are amongst the most enthusiastic wine folks I have met in my entire life.

I presented twelve Greek wines from my CA portfolio. I can sum up the experience in one sentence: Not only have I made new friends, but also gained important supporters at the same time.

I also met with a couple of interested importers. Whatever the result of these meetings might be, one thing is already sure: This was only my first visit to Panama, I will be back. A huge thank you goes out to the person who convinced me to come. You know who you are!

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