by Markus Stolz

Shocking Statistics

byMarkus Stolz
October 19, 2009, 10 Comments
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no public accessToday, more than 700 wineries exist in Greece. Out of all the wineries, three producers, or less than 0.43% of the existing wineries, have a total share of over 50% of the Greek wine consumption in the major export markets. I am well aware that these three wineries are able to produce solid quality in volume, which is not an easy task to accomplish. The fact remains however, that they cannot produce unique and exciting terroir wines in volume.

Let’s go into more detail: About 90% of the volume of Greek wines (excluding sweet wines) is sold in the domestic market, and only approximately 10% is being exported. Between 80 and 90% of the wine sales in European countries takes place at less than 5,00 € per bottle.

The largest importer of Greek wines is Germany, being responsible for nearly 50% of the total volume. Prices achieved are one of the lowest from any of the major import countries as measured by value per unit volume. This points to a low level of activity from German wine merchants, sales are dominated by large discounters.

The consultants PRC-Critical Publics London-alter Vision Group collected the above figures from 46 Greek wineries that represent 57% of the Greek wine exports. Just stop here for a moment: Three producers have a total market share of over 50%, the combined exports of 43 more producers just add another 7% to the total export volume.

This is a nightmare showcase of business at work – the business being to sell and to take on large volumes of wines at dumping prices. No wonder that the image of Greek wines abroad continues to suffer from prejudice, as the consumer simply does not even get a realistic chance to discover what this truly exciting wine region really has to offer.

There are many small-scale wineries that produce stunning wines. In many cases, these family enterprises sell their products in the local market and do not have the expertise to tap into the markets abroad. Medium sized wineries do have an interest to explore export markets, but are often at a loss on how to best market their wines. The old school of thought demands for compliance with the existing laws of demand, and every effort to introduce premium wines is all too easily derailed by the prevailing conceptions. Exclusive distribution rights almost always cover only the “cheap” part of the portfolio; the high-end wines are being ignored.

On the one hand, I should count myself very lucky: I live in Greece and I am able to drink the finest Greek wines at competitive prices. I have been able to expand my palate without breaking the bank. This has been an invaluable experience, and I dare state that I have learned more about wines since I moved to Greece 5 years ago than in the 15-year period before when I was actively involved with wines.

The shocking export statistics are nothing short but a slap in the face of wine consumers abroad. No proper access to the wine treasures of Greece exists.  I will re-double my efforts to change this sad situation. Many exciting Greek wines are only waiting to be discovered, and I have no doubt that consumers will embrace them.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Kat from Living in Greece for bringing this statistic to my attention. The original report in Greek can be found here.

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About Markus Stolz

Over the last years, I have come to really appreciate Greek wines. There are many grape varieties that exist only in Greece and I have the good fortune of being able to try them all. I wish to share my enthusiasm with wine lovers around the world, who often limit themselves to maybe four red and four white grape varieties for most of their life.

  1. Thomas PellechiaOctober 20, 2009, 4:07 pm

    Markus,

    You have before you a vast opportunity. If I were just starting out in the business, or in life ;), I would join you.

    Having met importers of Greek wines in NY City, I can tell you that they also claim the statistics are as dismal as you say they are.

    Maybe the Greek wine producers need to get some government funding to take their show on the road. The Italian wine industry has done wonders by traveling to the U.S.

  2. elloinosOctober 20, 2009, 4:28 pm

    Thomas, I agree fully with you, it is a vast opportunity, but also a very rocky road to take. The Greek wineries seem to wake up and are working on the issue you mentioned, but as you know, things do not always move as quickly in this country as one would hope for. I am fully aware that I cannot expect a descent income stream for quite some time, but I have no doubt that Greek wines are in a unique position. I love the work I am doing, and I am in it with all my heart, and given time, I am sure that I will succeed with my efforts.

  3. Paul DOctober 20, 2009, 9:50 pm

    Until things change drastically in the UK market I will continue to come back from my annual trip to Greece laden with as much wine I can carry. Which unfortunately is never enough!

  4. elloinosOctober 20, 2009, 10:12 pm

    Paul, it will certainly take time to change things in the UK market. However, I do receive some interest from well known names. It is currently small, but this is of course not unexpected. I don’t mind at all filling smaller orders, as this is the first crucial step which paves the way for the future. For me the UK market is a priority – do you get any reaction from the wine merchants when you ask about their selection of Greek wines?

  5. Thomas PellechiaOctober 20, 2009, 11:27 pm

    Gee Markus, if you wanted to sell wine in the UK you should have moved either to Bordeaux or to Australia ;)

  6. elloinosOctober 20, 2009, 11:41 pm

    :) Watch me, how many people do you know that have a mission to sell Greek wines in the UK? It is a fascinating market, well educated from century old ties to Bordeaux, and I respect that. My own wine education started in the UK – there is prejudice to deal with, but so far I have met honesty – in an encouraging way.

  7. […] located in remote, rural areas. Only a small percentage of the total production of Greek wines is exported. Often run as a family business, the vintner is still the farmer in a traditional sense. He is […]

  8. jasonOctober 27, 2009, 8:26 pm

    Markus, I welcome your efforts on bringing a broader selection of Greek wines to the world. If there is anything I can ever do to support your efforts let me know.

    Cheers,
    Jason

  9. elloinosOctober 27, 2009, 8:39 pm

    Jason, this is certainly greatly appreciated. I am sure that support like yours will really make the difference!

  10. Stephanie Brandenburg AskewDecember 6, 2013, 5:20 pm

    Markus,
    So nice to meet you! I came to the same conclusion after a recent trip to Greece, Nemea, in particular. I fell in love with Agiorgitika (and malagousia, to a slightly lesser extent) and Greece, so came back and founded Giamas. I am still waiting for the approval of my federal alcohol importation license, then my state-specific one, but have begun talks with local wine merchants. Even those with extensive experience as sommeliers are unfamiliar with the untapped treasure of Greek grapes. I hope to remedy that soon.

  1. […] located in remote, rural areas. Only a small percentage of the total production of Greek wines is exported. Often run as a family business, the vintner is still the farmer in a traditional sense. He is […]