by Markus Stolz

My calling – a cause to follow

byMarkus Stolz
July 29, 2009, 13 Comments

Follow me on my way to Greece and read how I entered the Greek wine world.

2003  – 2009

Markus Stolz AshtangaAt the end of October 2003 we moved to Greece. My wife was six months pregnant at the time and traveled to our new home by plane with our three children whilst I was driving our car from Germany to Greece. We had planned to stay with my in-laws a night or two upon our arrival, until the removal van caught up from Germany and delivered the removal goods to the new house.

On the morning of the removal, our architect in charge of the building the house called to indicate, that we should expect a few days delay with moving in – the house was not quite ready yet. A ‘few days’ delay turned out to be many weeks. All our belongings had to be stored in the garage of the house and we lived out of the ‘two-days sleepover’ luggage, for most of the time; we finally were able to move in one week before Christmas. Four weeks later, my wife gave birth to our youngest daughter.

During most of 2004 I took Greek language lessons for about 6 hours per week. It is very strange to live in a country without being able to communicate properly. In my opinion, the Greek culture is furthest away from all other original EU states. But once I began understanding and identifying with it, my life became much more interesting than it had ever been before.

I started working as a consultant to a Greek hedge fund in Autumn 2004. After 10 years of working from home, it felt odd working in an office again. It was a start-up company, and I learned a lot about the Greek way of doing business. When I commenced the cooperation, the company had just 2 million Euro under management. When I left the company at the end of 2008, assets under management had grown to over 100 million Euro.

Shortly after I arrived in Greece, I started exploring Greek wines by visiting estates, talking to the growers, and tasting many wines. The thing I love most about them, is that they are never boring; they feature an abundance of new flavours and aromas. In 2007, I built a temperature-controlled wine cellar at my home. I still had about 1600 bottles of fine wines in professional storage in London. These gems were delivered just before Easter that year to my house in Athens.

About 3 ½ years ago I took up Ashtanga Yoga again, after a break of nearly 10 years. I now practise 6 times a week, for a good hour each time. I lost 17 kg and have kept this weight for nearly 2 years now. I have four great kids, am only 43 years old, weigh 71 kg, and am loving and knowing Greek wines – it feels good!

Over the last years I thought a lot about becoming involved with wines on a professional basis. I felt the intense desire to increase the amount of time I dedicate to something that captures my soul so much. I religiously kept notes on everything I tasted, occasionally sold some wines from my wine cellar to other wine enthusiasts, entertained the idea of running wine courses in Greece, contemplated exploiting the internet by creating a wine information portal on the web, I was even contacted to become a partner in a wine restaurant.

None of my ideas though felt like a viable and fulfilling business proposition. I wanted to do something that would broaden my horizon with regards to wines themselves but at the same time share and contribute this know-how to the community of wine enthusiasts.

Whilst researching Greek wines, I noticed how little quality information had been published on the subject. Furthermore, whenever I wanted to share and exchange my newly acquired knowledge with friends and family in Germany and Britain, their response always indicated a sense of surprise, that I presented these wines as high quality products, and at times even compared them directly with renowned French or Italian producers.

Consumers outside Greece rarely have the chance to sample a good range of Greek wines, as the Greek wineries have not exploited the export markets successfully. There is also prejudice about the wine quality, as Greek wines carry the connotation of cheap retsina with them. There is unfortunately no active promotion of this invaluable Greek treasure: wines of highest quality in all price ranges, and in unique grapes.

This realisation presented almost a ‘calling’ – a cause to follow! I am now actively pursuing exactly that: educating myself in depth about numerous Greek wine producers and promoting their products primarily in Germany and Britain as a start. I am linking producers, wine merchants and the end consumers in an effort, to spread the message and open up this truly wonderful, unique wine world that this country has to offer, to everyone abroad sharing my enthusiasm for it.

And my experience to date may be summarised as follows:

  • True quality is always recognised. Whenever I got someone interested enough to taste a Greek wine that I proposed, they have concurred that they are exciting.
  • Many professional tasters abroad were surprised by the high quality of Greek wines and supported my venture.
  • Once I got the chance to talk and taste with wine merchants, the feedback I received has been positive.
  • I have yet to find someone who does not enjoy a glass of Agiorgitiko
  • It’s been hard work to date, but the solid substance of the quality of Greek wines makes me confident of their success to come abroad.

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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. SusaAugust 17, 2009, 11:57 am

    Sehr interessant, einmal mehr über die Person hinter einem Blog zu erfahren. Ähnliche Erfahrungen in Bezug auf griechischen Wein haben wir im Freundeskreis auch gemacht. Hoffe, es wird bald in Hamburg leichter, Wein aus Griechenland zu kaufen oder zu trinken. Vielleicht ja in der Weinlounge?

  2. adminAugust 17, 2009, 6:35 pm

    Hallo, danke für das positive feedback. Würde mich sehr freuen, wenn demnächst griechische Weine in Hamburger Weinhandlungen zu finden sind. Weinlounge ist klasse – am Besten dort einfach mal Interesse an Weinen aus Griechenland zeigen.

  3. ClaudiaAugust 24, 2009, 11:20 am

    Found your blog/website by following a Tweet from Jancis Robinson. Hope you, your family, your house and wines will be saved from the fires.

    Wow, very interesting life story so far! Thanks for sharing. I’ve been working on starting a blog and wasn’t sure how to explain my background. I like your candid style and it assures me that I can do that too!

    I am finally deepening my wine knowledge, although I’ve been actively in the business for 15 years and also grew up in a winemaking household. I also completed the Advanced Certificate and now about to complete the Diploma (just have to present my honors thesis at the Colloquium in September). This week I’m handing in my application to the MW education program. Your story gives me courage and inspiriation that if you believe in what you want and in what you do, you can achieve it!

    I’m looking forward to following your reports about Greek wine.

  4. adminAugust 24, 2009, 11:55 am

    Claudia, thank you very much for your kind words. So far we have been lucky, another village just 3 miles north of our home has been badly damaged by the wildfires. 20000 people were evacuated there, and many houses have been burned down there. I really appreciate your feedback, at first I was not quite sure how readers would react to my personal story, but actually they spend quite some time on these pages, so they do read the content.

    All the best for your honors thesis in September. I have a lot of respect for your decision to apply for the MW program! Good luck with your blog, please let me know the URL once its up and running.

  5. Nikaline IaconoSeptember 21, 2009, 12:38 am

    Hello there, great site, I look forward to reading more of your articles, especially about the more rare Greek varietals. I live and work in Portland, ME, US at a relatively new Greek restaurant called Emilitsa (do a search and you will come up with some nice info on it.) We feature only Greek wines, and I have become very passionate about them because of this. I have found that the general public is very receptive and eager to try our wines as long as we do a good job of making them acessible and understandable. And they always love them!! I am always looking to get more wines on our list, and also work for a small wine distribution company that sells wine within the state of Maine. On a more local level, I too, am dedicated to educating people about the wonderful Greek wine out there. I would love to hear any suggestions you have. Are you involved in/ working on bringing Greek wine into the US at all? If so I would love hear about what you are bringing in, what you would like to bring in! Thanks so much, and keep writing, Nikaline

  6. elloinosSeptember 21, 2009, 7:28 am

    Hi Nikaline,

    I love the write ups on your restaurant, wish I could spent an evening there! It is great that you feature only Greek wines and that the general public is very receptive. It is so important to educate the customer about those wines, as you seem to do. I have also found that people really are surprised about the quality and taste of Greek wines. There is the need to explain the grape varieties and give some background information, so that people don’t feel overwhelmed.

    It is great that you wish to become involved educating people about greek wines on a local basis. Maybe you could start with some wine tasting events?

    I am not currently actively involved in bringing wines to the US, however, I am in touch with some importers who are interested. I find that I receive a lot of interest from the US, certainly this site is frequently visited by US users. If I get the chance to become involved with the US market, I will jump at it.

    Thank you very much for your comments, I appreciate this a lot.


  7. katOctober 20, 2009, 7:07 pm

    This is the first time I’ve read something more personal about the man behind the Greek wine glass. Thank you for sharing your story, and for advocating wines that deserve more than a mere sip. Being from California, I admit to being biased, but I’m always open to new things.

    Adding you to my list of good reads now. :)

  8. elloinosOctober 20, 2009, 7:23 pm

    Kat, thanks, your comment means a lot to me – maybe I should think about changing my twitter avatar… If I can get a Californian to support Greek wines, everything should be possible ;-)

  9. Paul DNovember 23, 2009, 10:34 pm

    So glad to have found your site, only now managing to catch up with most of the excellent information/updates which are not easily available in th UK. Keep up the excellent work.

  10. elloinosNovember 23, 2009, 10:56 pm

    Paul, thanks for making the effort to check my site, I still remember your useful comments on my guest post at Feel free to engage here as your time permits, I always love to interact with others.

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  13. Michael PlunkettFebruary 24, 2010, 6:10 pm

    Great info .fun read ,always interesting and informative.Michael, Canada

  1. A thank you post | ELLOINOSDecember 29, 2009, 2:47 pm

    […] over a year ago I decided to leave behind my professional past in investment banking and get involved with wines on a full-time basis. I took the plunge into this adventure in the first weeks of January […]

  2. Wind of change | ELLOINOSFebruary 23, 2010, 5:57 pm

    […] of these days I presented Greek wines to different audiences in Germany. For the first time since I started promoting Greek wines abroad 13 months ago, there was no need for me to initiate interest, nor did I have to […]