ATHENS - The National Herald attended the Oenorama 2019 wine expo, the biggest exhibition of Greek wines in Athens on the weekend of March 2. This year, the expo celebrated its silver 25th anniversary at the Zappeion Hall.
Wine experts were able to exchange views on the progress and future of Greek wine both within and outside of Greece. Thousands of visitors had the opportunity to taste more than 2,000 Greek wines during the three days of the expo. Almost 25,000 bottles of wine are opened every year during this three-day exhibition – with all the bottles recycled after their content has been tested.
The exhibition, which becomes larger and larger every year, is proof that interest in Greek wine is now established abroad as well. Thus, it is not surprising that Oenorama invites more than 15,000 buyers every year.
Nikos Mavreas, sales manager of Nestor Imports from New York, spoke with TNH about the penetration of Greek wines into the U.S. market.
"Every year I am surprised at how much better the wines are. I am amazed at how they are watching international trends. They follow what is happening throughout the wine world through studies or through the press," said Mavreas.
Yet Greek wine is loved in many countries of the world. The big bet is to extend Greek wine to a non-Greek public, and I believe that with Santorini wines, it can be achieved."
Mavreas did not fail to thank the customers of Nestor Imports, noting that the company supplies Greek wine to 46 of the 50 American states. In closing, he made special mention of the quality of Greek wine, saying that in some varieties it is not just equal, but also better, than many wines produced in other countries. The organizer of the exhibition was Dinos Stergidis. Speaking to TNH Stergidis pointed out that he has close ties to the Greek diaspora as he was born in Australia to parents from Egypt. His grandparents were from Asia Minor and he studied in the United States.
"I created Oenorama in 1994. This year, we celebrate its 25 years. During this time, we saw Greek wine change radically – Greek wine has been revolutionized and wines today have nothing to do with the wines of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. There are certain Greek wines that are on an international scale and can compete with many foreign wines. They are not the best in the world, but they can stand proudly next to many foreign-produced wines,” he said.
“With Oenorama,” he noted, “we have created a communication platform where all the Greek producers can come and present their wines. It is a very nice event – the beautiful and hospitable character of the Greeks, with the help of wine, creates a very ‘Dionysian’ affair. It is completely different than the wine festival that was once held in Dafni. It is an event where people come to try, evaluate, and choose the wines they will put into their business or in their home.”
The Expo attracts many visitors from abroad. “We had a very large team from New York, from Chicago, from Montreal, from Sydney. I won’t even mention Europe. And we don’t just have Greek expatriates – we have wine buyers from all over the world who want Greek wine in their cellars and restaurants. And I think this is important – we need expand the reach of Greek wine – it needs to enter the cellars and everyday life of the American and other foreign consumers, not just the Greeks of the diaspora,” said Stergidis.
“I think this can be done,” he continued, “because we have the quality. We have strong names such as Santorini, such as Nemea, such as Naoussa, such as Crete. Names that a stranger can understand and adopt. We want Greek wine to enter foreigners' homes, so that they can taste them with their meals. I believe this will be our great success."