New York - Greek winemakers are not pricing their wares in
drachmas - yet.
The winemakers, visiting New York as part of an
international promotional tour, doubted Athens would leave the eurozone even
after Fitch Ratings Agency downgraded Greece's sovereign debt on Thursday,
calling the country's exit from the monetary union "probable".
"No, no, no. That is not going to happen,"
Stellios Boutaris, whose family owns the Kir-Yianni winery, insisted. "And
if that happens, we will have bigger problems than just pricing wine in
Boutaris said he was "a guy who always sees the glass
half full... There have been so many journalists coming to talk about Greek
wines because they are looking for a positive story about Greece. And right
now, it is."
Attempts in Greece to form a new government collapsed this
week, jolting the European single currency on prospects Greek leftists opposed
to terms of an EU bailout could win a June election and the country could exit
The Greek winemakers in New York ranged from big producers
to boutique vineyards and one-man shops, but all said they wanted Greece to
keep the single currency because of the cheaper credit and relative economic
stability it brought before the current crisis.
Angelos Iatridis, a University of Bordeaux-trained winemaker
who worked harvests in France and Spain before buying his own vineyard, Alpha
Estate, in 1999, thought the euro's hovering near its 2012 low of $1.2623 was
actually good for Greek winemakers.
"It's good for us because we will be able to sell more
wine abroad," Iatridis said, noting that he exports approximately 45% of
the 300 000 bottles he produces annually.
"The political situation is not stable right now, but I
believe in the next election (on June 17) that we will have a much more stable
government," he said.
Credit, or the lack of it during the debt crisis, is a major
problem as wine production is a capital intensive business. At any one time,
Iatridis has three vintages on his estate in Amyndeon, the country's
northernmost growing region.
"There is no credit. That is why we work very hard
going around to promote our wines," he said, adding that before he was in
New York, the New Wines of Greece promotional tour had been to Denver, Chicago,
Montreal and Toronto.
Next month, while other Greeks are voting, he will be trying
to sell his wines in Australia.
Panagiotis Papagiannopoulos, winemaker for the tiny
Tetramythos vineyards in the village of Ano Diakopto not far from the Gulf of
Corinth, took a long view of the political problems: "We have seen much
worse things in the past four or five decades. This is just a blip."
Pouring his crisp, white Roditis wine, Papagiannopoulos
predicted that the "politicians will come to their senses and this will
all be resolved. We are not just Greeks, we are Europeans."
Even as he spoke, a new poll released in Athens found
Greece's conservative New Democracy Party, which backs the country's
international bailout, had re-taken the lead in the June 17 election race.