While reading a post in Wine Searcher titled, "Who Buys Wine Over $20?", I was more intrigued not by that question, but rather by a quote from Wine Market Council President John Gillespie. Speaking about how Greek wines have obtained a level of success in the market based on writers and restaurants, Gillespie stated, "Any successful wine starts this way now: from the blogs and sommeliers." I contacted from New Wines of Greece, who I first met while on a media trip to Santorini, to get his specific take on how this phenomenon worked.
1) How would you characterize the role that sommeliers and bloggers had in raising the profile, and sales, of Greek wine in the United States?
We realized early on that Greek wine would have to be a "hand-sell", since we were an emerging wine region with unique grape varieties and many great stories to tell. We also knew that we needed to build the Greek wine brand in the on-premise market where the sommeliers, who are the "gate-keepers", could tell our story. Besides, today's generation of sommeliers are always looking for something new to offer their clients and pair with different foods. Concerning the bloggers, one of our targets was to capture the imagination of the millennial wine drinkers early since they were not necessarily tied to the more traditional winemaking regions as previous generations were, although interestingly enough, we have found strong support amongst the more seasoned wine drinkers, who appreciate a well made wine that offers something unique. So, who better to enlist in our cause, than the wine bloggers who are the ones enabling the dynamic wine conversation currently taking place online.
2) With a crowded and diverse field of imported wines, and passion for domestics, how do you build on this interest to see Greek wines have a wider place at the American table?
Even though the American market is very competitive, Greek wine truly has something new to offer consumers, besides the usual suspects. Greece is an ideal place for vineyards with optimal climatic conditions that produce wines with a true sense of place, especially regions like Santorini and I think this will help differentiate us in the market. Realistically though, since most of the wineries are low-production, boutique estates, it is up to us to create our own niche. Greek wines are also very "food-friendly" with crisp acidities in the whites and elegant reds that are not over-manipulated. Combine that with moderate levels of alcohol and Greek wines become a chef's dream for pairing with virtually any type of cuisine. They are also still a great bargain right now, including the medium to upper price-points.
Read about a red grape from Greece that reminded Zachary Sussman of Nebbolo: Xinomavro
Jameson Fink has a decade of wine industry and blogging experience. Saveur Magazine nominated his site, jamesonfink.com, for a 2013 Best Food Blog Award in the Wine/Beer Category. He is a tireless advocate for year-round rosé consumption and enjoys a glass of Champagne alongside a bowl of popcorn.