“Greece’s economic crisis has been devastating and overwhelming,” reports Forbes magazine, in an article that looks at the economics of the wine industry in order to determine the impact of Greece’s crisis and understand the nuances of its signs of recovery.
Forbes contributor Cathy Huyghe describes the many changes that occurred in the Greek wine industry in the last few years and the emerging trends in wine production.
“At the beginning of the crisis we saw a decrease of our sales, but there was also an increase in unexpected categories that balanced out that drop,” told Forbes Dr. Yannis Voyatzis, Chief Enologist at Boutari Wineries S.A.
With less money to spend, and with a sense that local products are both appealing and less expensive, consumers now demand options in the form of “homemade” or pure wine served in carafes at restaurants. They also demand cheaper, more casual, and smaller-portioned food options as an alternative to the more expensive, bigger meals served in formal restaurants, Cathy Huyghe stresses.
According to Forbes’ article, this development has resulted, within the past two years, in a sharp increase of wine bars and by-the-glass consumption. And because drinking wine by the glass encourages experimentation and comparison, the dialogue about wine is also growing, especially among young people who visit wine bars most often.
In addition, taxes on hard alcohol like vodka and whiskey have increased while taxes on wine have stabilized. Establishments like trendy clubs in the cities have started carrying wine, whereas before they carried spirits for cocktails.
The above factors factors bode well for wine’s position within Greece’s social culture. As Yannis Voyatzis says: “Wine is back.”
Grape cultivation has been part of the Greek landscape for thousands of years. Farming in Greece is far from monocultural, however: complementary crops like olives, fava beans, peaches, tomatoes, and eggplant are integrated into the plantings, Forbes says.
However, trying to break away from the family farm, in search of education and professional opportunities elsewhere, had become the norm in the past for younger generations.
“We all grew up thinking we’d work in offices. It’s an adjustment to think we’d be working with our hands. The people who work the harvest now are still getting used to the idea. There is no program on your PC for growing grapes,” said Vivi Papaspirou, enologist at Boutari’s winery in Crete.
With younger generations returning to the countryside the number of new producers has increased sharply in recent years. Many young people decide to study as enologists and enter the wine industry with fresh and innovative ideas.