The Greek wine industry is currently not in the position to function. All actions are on hold, and no decisions or payments can be made until the end of this month. After this time, the Greek wine industry might have ceased to exist in its current structure altogether.
The EDOAO is the National Interprofessional Organization of Vine and Wine of Greece. The organization was founded in 2000 and has been recognised by the Hellenic Agricultural Ministry. A major long-term project has just been launched: The New Wines of Greece. This national project shows real potential for the promotion of Greek wines abroad and was badly needed. I was thus far impressed, as it seemed to me that the industry started to work seriously together towards a single goal.
The EDOAO consists in equal parts of two groups: (1) The Greek wine federation SEO, its members are the Greek winemakers who produce 75% of the total volume of wine produced in Greece. (2) The Central Union of the vine and wine producing cooperative organizations of Greece KEOSOE.
The exact details of what unfolded is in my view not really relevant at this point, as the outcome seems to be a complete and utter disaster: Towards the end of April, the SEO filed a complaint with the EU in regards to interest free loans handed out to the cooperatives by the Ministry of Agriculture. In a press conference on June 14th, the president of the SEO launched a further attack on the KEOSEO, citing inefficient use of their budgets.
On June 21st, at a meeting of the EDOAO’s Board of Directors, the KEOSEO suspended its participation in EDOAO and issued a 10-day ultimatum for the removal of the president of the SEO from the Board of Directors of the EDOAO, as well as the withdrawal of the complaint by the SEO. There are two press releases (in Greek) from the KEOSEO, which you can find here and here. Both releases are written in a very emotional way, but emotions are rarely a good guide in business.
The EDOAO cannot exist without both the SEO and the KEOSEO – it is written in their statute. The Greek wine industry is badly hit by the financial crisis and local sales of many bottled wines have dropped by 40% over the last 12 months. It is more important than ever for them to concentrate on the export markets. The New Wines of Greece campaign has been planned for years, and has just taken its first baby steps. The drama that is currently unfolding is the action of irresponsibility on a major scale.
I urge all involved to sit down, be constructive and show real leadership by uniting again. Make no mistake, in this particular case, the party that sticks a knife into the EDOAO will have committed suicide at the same time. Your choice is easy: Be remembered as the ones who personally inflicted major damage on the Greek wine industry for years to come, or as the ones who overcame their differences for the good of all.