Agrenda is a weekly Greek agricultural newspaper that is distributed nationwide. An interview with me in regards to the marketing of Greek wines in Germany was published a few days ago. The original interview in Greek can be found here . My answers were actually more elaborate, but were shortened somewhat because of limited space availability. Thanks go to @vintuition who encouraged me to translate and post the interview here.
Let’s expand the distribution channels
In the important German wine market, Greek wine is gradually improving its image and is becoming more appealing to discerning consumers, according to Markus Stolz. To him, as the German creator of the successful Elloinos blog, Greek wine with its numerous native varieties has the advantage of authenticity, and at the same time features great value for money wines in the high quality segment. However, in order for Greek wines to establish a better place in the foreign markets, there are still many barriers to be overcome, the main being the distinct absence of Greek quality wine from the basic distribution channels. There is also a self-centered culture within the wine industry which often prevents it from cooperating towards a common goal. However the use of technology could do wonders to conquer new markets.
What image does Greek wine have in the German market?
It will take time and effort to change the tarnished image of Greek wine in Germany. In my opinion, the main problem is that Greek wines are not being sold in the German wine shops. Thus, the German consumer knows only wines available from wholesalers and supermarkets. Unfortunately, the wines that are offered there only reinforce the above impression. However, I see signs of change. Recently, the renowned publication Weinwisser asked me for a presentation of Greek wines, and hosted the topic for the first time its 20-year history. Some highly regarded wine merchants in Germany are for the first time interested in including Greek wines in their portfolio. One of the most famous restaurants in the country that holds 3 Michelin stars will offer six Greek wines that I recommended to them from spring 2011.
It is often said that the retail price of Greek wine is high.
This criticism is not unfounded with regards to wines costing less than 5 Euros. This has to do with the fact that many wineries are small family businesses with an annual production of less than 20,000 bottles which cannot be sold at a price tag of 3 Euros. On the other hand, large wineries in this category do not offer sufficient quality in their products. This presents a problem, as the low cost wines could function as a catalyst for sales of higher quality wines. In the mid-range price class of 5 to 10 Euros we see good value for money whilst the price range of 10 to 15 euro is very strong, and offers some excellent wines. In the highest category, Greek wines have an interesting specificity: 90% of the top wines are available at prices up to 25 Euros. I do not know of another country, where this is happening.
How should Greek wines be promoted abroad? What do you think of the marketing strategy developed by the EDOAO?
Most importers of Greek wine abroad are emigrant Greeks, serving mainly Greeks residing in this country. These distribution channels have to be expanded. It is very positive that a marketing strategy has been developed and I hope it will be fruitful, but I am skeptical about its long-term plans. Over the last 2-3 years, the Internet has completely changed conventional business models. In such a dynamic environment, it is dangerous to draw up plans far ahead into the future, based on research that is already 2-3 years old.
What other barriers must be overcome by the Greek wine-makers?
They could use simple but effective means to improve the image of wine. Millions of tourists have their first contact with Greek wine in taverns. Unfortunately the wine offering there is often of dubious quality. So tourists form a negative image, which they pass on to friends after their return. Wine producers could sell bag-in-box wines of better quality to tavernas, thus helping the image of Greek wine in the medium term. Also, it is my impression that in the Greek economy, the wine industry is dominated by a number of cliques and has therefore become very fragmented.
What Greek varieties stand out?
Greece is blessed with numerous native varieties, which make its wines interesting abroad, as this gives Greek wines the advantage of authenticity. For me Assyrtiko and Xinomavro are the most exciting varieties as they have the potential to produce truly great wines. I also love the grape varieties of Robola, Malagousia and Vertzami.
What reception does your blog «Elloinos» have?
Two years ago, when I decided to become professionally involved with Greek wines, I immediately noticed the lack of interest abroad. Prejudices were prevailing and knowledge about the wines was only superficial, whilst the information available on the Internet was weak. Right from the beginning I made it my goal to achieve a constant level of interest in Greek wines. Elloinos readers include wine critics, journalists, retailers, importers, the gastronomy, and wine lovers. Most readers are from the USA, Germany, England, Canada and Greece. Of major importance are the social networks like Twitter and Facebook, which have generated almost all my network of contacts abroad.