by Markus Stolz

Suicide
path

byMarkus Stolz
June 27, 2011, 9 Comments

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.

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  1. Thomas PellechiaJune 28, 2011, 5:42 pm

    If only I held an importer’s license…I see an opportunity for a smart U.S. importer with solid sales experience.

  2. elloinosJune 28, 2011, 5:46 pm

    Thomas, the US interest is becoming more active – in this respect I believe you are spot on.

  3. Thomas PellechiaJune 28, 2011, 6:03 pm

    Markus,

    Interest and sales ability (or marketing ability) must go hand-in-hand for it to work out in this country. I’ve seen many with interest, but only few with smarts… ;)

  4. Yiannis PapadakisJune 29, 2011, 3:19 pm

    Anyone with a little knowledge of Greek history, from antiquity to modern times, knows very well that such conflict among Greeks is anything but rare, especially when power and influence is the name of the game. It is of course very sad that such autocatastrophic actions take place in a difficult situation like the one Greece is facing today (but again this is nothing new). That said I would like to say that I do not share your enthusiasm on the “New Wines of Greece” project (which as you know, is nothing but the result of a long conflict between many interested parts), for the simple reason that it is rather confusing, especially for those to whom it is mainly targeted, i.e. people with almost zero knowledge on Greek wine. The idea of linking the 4 main grape varieties to their main places of origin is of course excellent, but the way it is applied results in a confusion. For example, while on 3 of the 4 cases the variety is stated first and the name of the region second, in the case of Agiorgitiko, the name of the region comes first (Nemea-Agiorgitiko) leading to the impression that Nemea is the grape and Agiorgitiko the appelation! Also, I find the approach of linking so closely the grape with the place, as if they are complementary terms, confusing for beginners . These of course are technicalities. The main issue is the promotion of Greek wines to the international markets, and this effort needs close cooperation of all interested parts. Sometimes, though, it seems like the incorrect application of an otherwise good idea, might cause more harm than benefit.

  5. elloinosJune 30, 2011, 4:55 pm

    Yianni, I enjoy your insights as always. I am sure the New Wines of Greece team will also be grateful for your feedback. I was impressed mainly because the project involves many different parties and was successfully launched. The campaign is really needed, and of course has the potential to become much more powerful than it is right now. In any case, let us all hope that it will be continued.

  6. Yiannis PapadakisJuly 4, 2011, 5:07 pm

    Thanks Markus. I am sure you are delighted after reading the article on Greek wines, focused mainly on Santorini, featuring on the The Wine Advocate’s last issue. This guy Mark Squires has achieved such an in depth understanding on the Greek wine scene in the short time that he is involved with it! What pleased me even more than the positive reviews and the high scores (with an impressive 16 out of 114 wines scoring between 90 and 95!, including for the first time 6 dry reds) is the fact that such a detailed vintage report on a Greek wine region (Santorini) is for the first time published in an influential international wine review, placing it in the position it deserves among the world’s great wine regions. I hope Greek winemakers will do the best to grasp this opportunity, putting aside their suicidal tendencies for a while…

  7. elloinosJuly 4, 2011, 5:59 pm

    Yianni, of course I am delighted. As you rightly point out, Mark has an in depth understanding of the Greek wine scene. It is always a pleasure to engage with him. As to your last sentence, I am keeping fingers crossed. For me, Greek wines could really start making a serious breakthrough, certainly in the US. A lot has changed in consumers perception and the opportunities are very real. What is needed now is to build upon the momentum gained.

  8. PaulDJuly 28, 2011, 10:11 am

    Has any progress been made, have they kissed and made up yet?

  9. elloinosJuly 28, 2011, 10:27 am

    Paul, I am afraid that things look bleak – my latest info is that no progress has been made.