ATHENS – Getting more notice internationally, Greece’s wine industry wants to export some of the world’s best varieties to China, seeing a growing market there as ties between the countries tighten.
Some 250 wineries from all regions of Greece presented about 3,000 wines of all types at the just-concluded Oenorama 2022, the largest exhibition of Greek wines in the world, noted China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.
While Greek businesses have been slow to market themselves, often ceding business to other countries, Greek wines have picked up notice from major media reviews discovering how good they are, with ancient roots.
It was the first time in two years the event was held because of the still-lingering COVID-19 pandemic that has been gradually receding enough to allow exhibitions.
While China imported a mere 0.59 percent of Greece’s wine output in 2020, the International Trade Center’s (ITC) Export Potential Map Greece shows that the country is a promising target for Greek exporters, the report said.
“It is potentially an important market, because I think that the Chinese are very well-versed in the history of Greece and wine is part of our history. Many of our vineyards are in areas of archaeological interest or are tourist destinations, like Santorini,” said Oenorama’s General Manager Constantine Stergidis.
“China is an extremely important market or potentially important market for wines of Greece. I think that as wine becomes more popular in China, then in just a few years’ time, we will see Chinese drinkers getting closer to Greek wine,” Master of Wine Konstantinos Lazarakis, told Xinhua.
Aris Tselepos, a second-generation vintner at Tselepos Wines, which since 2015 has established stable cooperation with its partners in China, added,
“In the last few years Greek wine has established itself in the world market and it is doing its next steps in the market of Asia as well.”
He said that, “My experience has told me that it is a market with a huge growth the last few years. We export the products of all three of our wineries and we see a huge growth year after year, expecting to keep growing and keep strengthening this partnership.”
WINE VARIETY SPICE OF LIFE
Oenorama began in 1994 and Stergidis said that since then that Greece’s wine industry has warmed up to the idea that their products could be successfully exported if marketed.
“We have many new wineries, small ones that are opening, which is good, because this creates a critical mass for Greek wine and Greece’s wine industry abroad,” he said, similar to craft beers gaining popularity.
“We are starting to make more progress in viticulture, which is very important for the final product,” he added, with Greek wines even gaining favor in France, where competitors are often looked down upon.
The past five years have seen a steady increase in the average price of a bottle of Greek wine, which proves this point, Yannis Voyatzis, former president of the National Inter-Professional Organization of Vine and Wine (EDOAO), told the Greek daily Kathimerini recently, the report noted.
During Greece’s economic and austerity crisis from 2010-18, when the country relied on 326 billion euros ($360.39 billion) in three international bailouts, wine makers took a chance and wineries doubled from 635 to 1,295.
Between the northern parts of the country and the Island of Crete in the south, the authorities list 120 Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs) and more than 30 Protected Designations of Origin (PDOs) for Greek wines.
Enterprise Greece, the country’s official trade and investment promotion agency, said in an analysis based on the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) figures found the total value of Greece’s wine exports was 72.05 million euros ($79.65 million) in 2020 and 84.83 million euros ($93.78 million) in 2021. It showed that in 2020 the top market was Germany, with 37.68 percent of wines sent there, followed by the United States, Canada and France, and now expanding.