Follow me on my way to Greece and read how I entered the Greek wine world.
2003 – 2009
At 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.