Greek businessman enriches Chinese wine market

Writer: Yu Yuanfan  |  Editor: Vincent Lin  |  From: Shenzhen Daily 

If your impression of Greek products is still confined to Greek yogurt and feta cheese, it’s time for you to update your information as this country has so many more gems to offer. Greek businessman Liakos Constantinos brings products his native country takes pride in to China with a focus on wine, a product rising in prominence, especially in recent years.

Liakos Constantinos

Constantinos came to China six years ago. Prior to starting a new journey in a country thousands of miles away from his native country, he worked as a consultant in Greece after earning an MBA from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom. Shenzhen was not his first stop in China, but a short stay here made him decide to relocate.

“Shenzhen is a green city, and it’s developing at a fast speed and in an efficient way. I felt that this is a city where I can live well and make my business succeed, so I decided to stay,” Constantinos told the Shenzhen Daily.

Thus he opened his company, Hellenic Agora, in Shenzhen in 2014. Wine is not the sole business of this company – on the display shelves of his office, wine bottles are accompanied by bottles of olive oil, honey and bags of nuts – but wine is the category that constitutes the majority of sales and what Constantinos is most proud of.

“Greece is one of the earliest countries in the world to grow grapes and make wines, and some of the vinification methods we use today trace back to over 3,000 years ago,” introduced Constantinos. “We have unique local grape varieties, which give our wine unique aromas and tastes.”

The company currently represents 20 Greek wineries, and the more-than-100 wines in its portfolio range from reds and whites to rosés, still to sparking. Constantinos noted that the Shenzhen market is unique in that this is the only Chinese city whose consumption of Greek wine is dominated by white wines instead of red wines.

“This could be due to the hot and wet climate here, as white wines are generally served slightly chilled.” He commented, adding that the high percentage of young people in the city may also be a contributing factor.

When asked if going into the wine business in a market where most wine consumers would intuitively turn to French, Italian or Australian wines is difficult, Constantinos said that it is actually not as difficult as many would expect. Evidence shows his company’s sales have seen a growth of at least 100 percent for every year since it was established.

“When consumers of a market begin drinking wine, it’s normal for them to begin from the more famous countries. Then, as the market becomes more mature and consumers become more educated, they will begin to search for something new, something different. This is what we have seen in the United States and Canada in the past two decades, and we believe we will see this trend in China as well.”