Greek crisis could bolster wine trade

Winery owners are among the few people in Greece who haven’t been devastated by the financial crisis, and aren’t crushed by the possibility of leaving the euro. “I wish the crisis could go on the way it is now for the next 10 or 15 years,” Konstantinos Lazarakis MW said last week. “It makes (Greek winery owners) better businessmen.”

GREEK WINE

He explained that the crisis has forced Greek wineries to export rather than rely on a captive domestic market, invoking long-needed changes like translating wine labels into English.

There are worries, of course. If Greece were to leave the euro, barrels, bottles and other equipment would be much more expensive. And, of course, nobody wants to see the economy collapse.

“All society will suffer. The grapes are still there, but meat is not sufficient, milk is not sufficient, even electricity is imported. If we suffer like this, I’m afraid we won’t be very civilized,” said Stelios Tsiris, enologist for Cavino, one of Greece’s largest wineries.

But on the plus side, “Possibly this company might do better than before,” he added.

Similarly, Panayiotis Papagiannopoulos, winemaker for Tetramythos, believes that “the demand will be very great for Greek wines,” which would be much cheaper, should the “Grexit” take place.

Even if Greece stays in the euro, the years-long crisis has changed its wine industry in a way that enophiles might appreciate.

“Before the crisis, the popular styles in the Greek domestic market were Barossa-style Shiraz, or Napa-style Cabernet, produced in Greece. We had to sell our Roditis in Africa,” Papagiannopoulos said. “Nowadays, because of the crisis, people start to recover their Greekness. They like the Roditis, the Agiorgitiko, the Malagousia.”

Not only that, one winery owner argues that the wines will be even better because of the crisis. Most Greek vineyards are small plots that are not owned by wineries.

“This year growers will do their best to provide their best grapes to us,” says Giorgos Karelas, owner of a winery in Achaia. “They are afraid that if they lose us, they have nowhere to sell.”

Karelas isn’t worried about finding grape pickers either.

“We’ll have bankers come pick the grapes,” he says.

By W Blake Gray on July 20, 2015 – See more at: http://www.lepanmedia.com

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