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Economics of Greek Wine Industry

, Economics of Greek Wine Industry, eTurboNews | eTN
Image courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen, wikimedia public domain

Greek wines offer a captivating journey, and their unique characteristics make them a valuable addition to any wine collection.

Introduction: Discovering Greek Wines – A Palate Adventure

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In this 4-part series, “Greek Wines. Small-Scale + Large Impact,” we look at why Greek wines should be on your radar.

Indigenous Grape Varieties: Greece boasts over 300 indigenous grapes, each with its own distinct flavors and characteristics. This impressive diversity allows wine lovers to explore a wide range of grape expressions that showcase Greece’s rich viticultural heritage. From the crisp and mineral-driven Assyrtiko to the aromatic and floral Moschofilero, there is a Greek wine to suit every palate. Exploring these indigenous varieties is like embarking on a voyage through Greece’s terroir and culture.

Distinctive Terroir: Greece’s diverse climate, abundant sunshine, and unique soil composition contribute to the exceptional quality of its wines. The sunny and dry climate allows grapes to fully ripen, resulting in concentrated flavors and vibrant acidity. The thin and poor soil, often found in mountainous regions, forces the vines to struggle, producing lower yields but grapes of exceptional quality. This combination of factors creates wines with complexity, depth, and a strong sense of place.

Captivating White Wines: Greek white wines have gained international recognition for their outstanding quality and distinct character. Assyrtiko, primarily grown in Santorini, produces bone-dry wines with high acidity, pronounced minerality, and refreshing citrus flavors. Malagousia and Moschofilero offer aromatic profiles with floral notes and hints of exotic fruits. These white wines are versatile and pair well with various cuisines, making them a delightful addition to any wine collection.

Expressive Red Wines: Greek red wines, particularly Xinomavro and Agiorgitiko, have also garnered attention for their depth and complexity. Xinomavro, often compared to Italy’s Nebbiolo, produces age-worthy reds with firm tannins, vibrant acidity, and flavors of dark fruits, spices, and earth. Agiorgitiko, known as the “Blood of Hercules” delivers elegant and medium-bodied wines with red fruit flavors and silky tannins. These red wines offer a unique twist on classic grape varieties and provide a compelling experience for wine enthusiasts.

Food-Friendly Styles: Greek wines are known for their food-friendliness and their ability to beautifully complement the country’s cuisine. With its emphasis on fresh ingredients, aromatic herbs, and vibrant flavors, Greek cuisine pairs exceptionally well with Greek wines. Whether you’re enjoying a seafood feast with a crisp Assyrtiko, pairing a lamb dish with a bold Xinomavro, or savoring Greek meze with a versatile Agiorgitiko, Greek wines elevate the dining experience and create harmonious pairings.

, Economics of Greek Wine Industry, eTurboNews | eTN
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Economics of Greek Wine Industry

Greece has a long and rich history of wine production, and it holds a significant place in the country’s cultural heritage. The unique geography of Greece, with its diverse microclimates and soil types, allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of grape varieties and the production of wines with distinct flavors and characteristics.

In terms of vineyard scale, Greece is considered a micro-producer compared to some other wine-producing countries. The total area of vineyards in Greece is approximately 106,000 hectares, and the annual wine production is around 2.2 million hectoliters. This relatively small scale of production contributes to the exclusivity and craftsmanship associated with Greek wines.

The Greek wine industry can be categorized into four main types of producers based on their production capacity. Large wineries have a production capacity exceeding 100,000 hectoliters per year, while medium-sized wineries produce between 30,000 and 100,000 hectoliters annually. Small wineries, often family-owned, have a limited production capacity of less than 30,000 tons. Additionally, there are cooperatives that focus on producing and distributing wine primarily at the local level.

There are approximately 700–1350 active wine producers in Greece with 692 with the license to produce PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Designation of Indication) wines. It’s worth noting that this number includes wine producers with multiple wineries, which are registered only once based on the location of their headquarters. The term “active” refers to producers who already produce bottled wine. Some wine producers in Greece may have vineyards but do not yet own a complete winery, and they rely on other wineries for production and support. Wine production in Greece has low market share concentration and there are no companies with more than 5 percent market share.

The wine sector in Greece often takes the form of family businesses with a long-standing tradition. These family-owned wineries carry forward values, symbols, and traditions that are deeply rooted in their culture and heritage. Many of these families have built a solid market reputation over the years, thanks to their dedication to quality and their commitment to preserving the unique characteristics of Greek wines.

The relative boom in the Greek wine industry can be attributed to:

1.       1969, to fulfill preconditions to join the European Union, Greece revised its legislative framework for wines.

2.       1988, the use of the term “regional wine” was approved by the national regulations.

These developments led to a quality improvement of the wines produced and a revival of the country’s wine sector. These advancements have been reinforced by the joint actions of wine producers in several regions who have created non-profit associations.

The market size of the Greek wine industry (2023) measured by revenue is 182.0m Euros. The market has declined 15 percent per year on average between 1018 and 2023. The industry employs 3580 people in wine production (2023) with an average of 4.8 employees per winery.

Consumers are Motivated

Greek wines present an interesting challenge to the consumer as there are many different indigenous grape varieties under cultivation. While these grapes are well established, many since ancient times, they are still relatively unknown outside of Greece and their names are often difficult to pronounce. The names of the wines, the regions, and the producers also present a similar challenge.

The labeling of Greek wines is based on European Union legislation for the wine sector and therefore must follow certain rules. A correctly made wine label will contain both required and optional information, according to the category of the wine.

The wines produced by countries in the European Union, of which Greece is a member, are divided into two major categories: VQPRD (French for Quality Wines Produced in a Determined Region) and Table Wines. A superior category for the Table Wines is the Regional Wines also referred to as Vins de Pays.

About the author


Dr. Elinor Garely - special to eTN and editor in chief,

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