Kostis Dalamara from the Dalamara winery gives insight into how they promote their wines, and also shares some personal thoughts as he discusses the current consequences that wineries face as a result of the financial crisis in Greece. He gives a very powerful message to the entire Greek wine sector. The first part of this Q&A can be found here.
3. Do you export part of your production? How do you promote your wines?
A large part of our production is exported to France and the United States. Smaller quantities are shipped to Germany and Luxembourg, whilst from time to time we have exported to Belgium and Canada.
Xinomavro is a variety that sells well in the markets abroad, thanks to its unique character that can attract the consumers’ interest. A Greek wine from a Merlot-Cabernet blend doesn’t stand a chance in these markets, as there is saturation of these varieties.
Good wines from Xinomavro are now considered of equal quality to a Burgundy Pinot Noir and/or to a Piemonte Nebbiolo. Their aromatic elegance and the pale colour combined with a surprisingly robust tannic structure are the common feature of these varieties. The difference is that the prices for Xinomavro are a lot more competitive, especially when compared to Burgundy wines. Once this is realized by oenophiles, Xinomavro will have a chance to play a leading role in the international markets.
Regarding the promotion of our wines abroad, we made no moves ourselves to find the clients that we have today. All the people selling our wines abroad came looking for us in our winery, having probably heard of the name Dalamara from some other source. From that point on, we have supported these foreign clients by making frequent visits to their countries and by participating in person in presentations regarding our winery and products.
Our small production allows us to have a personal contact with the people who drink our wines. This is true not only for Greece, where a large proportion of our products are sold directly from the place where they are produced, but also for the foreign markets.
This brings us back to the concept of terroir. When we make a wine that we consider typical of the terroir where it is produced, the client must also be able to recognize this special character. A commercial label that can be found on any super market shelf must represent a product with minimum or no variations as to its sensory features. But in the case of terroir wines, the winemaker has to be close to the consumer explaining the role that the climate or the cultivation practices have played in shaping the character of the wine at hand. More sophisticated oenophiles can sometimes discern the terroir character by themselves. But because we are not yet famous like Burgundy with its legendary wines, we must engage more direct. If we want a consumer in New York to know the vine growing techniques applied by Dalamaras in the vineyards, or the weather conditions in Naoussa for a specific year, we have to be in constant contact with the client in order to keep him informed.
Those are definitely not the kind of marketing practices that we learn at school, but because wine, and especially wine made from Xinomavro, is such a unique product, a unique approach is needed.
4. What are your biggest fears and hopes for 2011?
One of our fears is the poor psychology in the Greek wine sector. Many companies that are directly or indirectly related to wine are in a difficult financial situation, and this could lead to a domino of collapses.
This situation creates problems in the wine market, because it is something that can affect us both directly and indirectly. First of all, many fellow producers, either reacting in panic towards the ongoing crisis, or due to mismanagement and false estimations, have been driving their prices up and down, which creates confusion. Many of them now sell at cost prices in order to dispose of their stock, because sometimes the cost of a wine is higher when it is stored than when it is sold at cost. Some wineries, in their effort to create a name in the market, have been offering their wines for super market sales, willing to sacrifice their image in order to avoid financial trouble. This is something that creates a serious problem to us and to anyone following a stable price policy for years. Today, more than at any moment in the past, we are facing the problem of clients coming to us saying that they can find Greek OPAP (VQPRD) wines sold at 3-4 € and wondering why we are more expensive.
Moreover, these strategies have led dealers to treat wine makers in arrogance, believing that the latter see them like saviors. As a result, they ask to buy their wines at ridiculously low prices. Unfortunately, many wine makers give in, and the problem becomes bigger.
Our hope is that this situation will act as a motivation for our sector to take action. Our hope is that the winemakers will be finally organized into dynamic regional groups and try to promote their wine culture as a whole. We hope that these financial problems will help us leave aside the selfish attitudes of the past and to create perspectives for future development of the entire wine sector.