Merging a love for Greek wines and opportunity during the Greek economic crisis, Greece and Grapes is a start-up with passion and promise.
Greece and Grapes: do what you love
They say do what you love. Konstantinos Georgiou, co-founder of Greece and Grapes, a start-up based in Athens that’s focused on selling Greek wines, followed this advice.
“We thought Greece and Grapes was the perfect combination of business and pleasure.”
Kopnstantinos and his business partners, Vassilis Liazis and Panagiotis Korakas, were all working in the financial services sector but they also had a hobby in common: wine tasting. They each loved to try wines during their travels and thought they could do the same kind of marketing for Greece’s rapidly improving wine industry. They did more research and became inspired.
“We love wine and wine is one of the few economic sectors that continue to excel despite the economic crisis.”
A growing Greek wine industry = opportunity
Konstantinos said that while most Greek vineyards are relatively small, producers are successfully merging local and international grape varieties, an ideal Mediterranean climate, and modern winemaking techniques. The result is the production of the Assyrtiko variety from Santorini, Agiorgitiko from Nemea, Xinomavro from Naoussa, Moschofilero from Mantineia, and other less widely known varieties from other areas. All of these wines are gaining increasing recognition in the international wine industry.
“We believe that in a small country like Greece, where it is impossible to compete in production volume with larger countries, winemakers have every right to be proud when they see their smaller production wines being internationally recognized.”
The best labels are featured on Greece and Grapes, which is now the largest online e-shop specializing exclusively in Greek wines and spirits.
“It is easy to think that with us being Greek we will have an elevated opinion of Greek wines, which is true! So, we prefer to reference the high ratings received from well-known independent wine critics. Greek wine is a major player in the market.”
The co-founder added that what makes Greece and Grapes stand out is as a start-up isn’t necessarily an innovative concept as with other start-ups, but rather a special and specific way to carry out a valuable service. Greece and Grapes is dedicated to only carrying Greek wines and does not sell generic alcohol.
The challenges behind Greece and Grapes
Launching a website isn’t necessarily an easy task, and Konstantinos explained that creating the e-shop had many hidden challenges. The partners had to learn about every facet of online technology and marketing. After that, the team worked hard to gain connections in the Greek winemaking industry. Above everything, the Greek financial crisis created restrictions and delays. The founders ended up self-financing their dream, due to lack of funding in the market. By 2012, Greece and Grapes was up and running online, but things were slow. Then, the tide turned in their favor and they experienced a market demand.
“At that point we forgot all the difficulties and started searching for even more challenges.”
He said that even with the challenges and the ongoing Greek crisis, everything worked out.
“On the positive side, I would say that our business moves are better thought out and analyzed. We avoid low value initiatives that we may have proceeded with in the past. In this context, we are better prepared for the brighter future that we expect to come. We are thrilled that it is positive year on year despite the economic crisis.”
Greece and Grapes for everyone
The website is used by both retail and wholesale clients in Greece and abroad with international interest increasing every month. Beyond the bottom line, Konstantinos expressed that feedback to improve is important and setting goals for the future.
“We would like to see our company expand even more internationally and hope that through our efforts in promoting Greek wines that our success will be great for our suppliers also. We’d like to achieve vertical expansion, by selling other products closely tied to what Greece and Grapes already carries.”
He declared that Greece’s tourism industry helps introduce Greek wines to new international audiences, who then search out specific wines once they have returned home. Konstantinos is also finding that wine lovers from around the globe give positive feedback, consistently buying wines and enthusiastically trying new ones every year – thanks to Greece and Grapes – and that, he says, is humbling too.
“This shows that Greek wines really are gaining the reputation for quality that they deserve.”
More in this series on Greek Start-ups by Marissa Tejada:
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