The smallest acts of kindness can go a long way. A recent example comes from world-renowned wine critic and journalist Jancis Robinson, who had been planning a week-long family vacation with her children and grandchildren on the Greek island of Paxos in the Ionian Sea.
Robinson had booked a villa and arranged all sorts of activities when she came across the Paxos Wines electronic store on the Internet. She selected various wines and was assured by the company’s owner, 37-year-old Andreas Diamantis, that they would be delivered to the villa. “They will be there waiting for you,” he told her, adding that she could settle the bill when she arrived on the island.
Hours before departing, she received a text message informing her that her flight had been cancelled. The next available flight for Corfu was three days later and had just two seats left. She cancelled the villa, her children changed their holiday plans and Robinson off for Paxos with her husband, Nick Lander, a food critic, staying at a simple hotel.
In the confusion, she almost forgot about the wine that was on its way to the villa. When she sent an email of apology to Diamantis, she was surprised by his answer. “Don’t worry,” he replied. “We will be happy to see you when you come to the island, to talk about and taste wine. We hope everything goes well and you manage to make it to our beautiful island.” Diamantis did not know she was a wine critic at the time.
In an article for the Financial Times on June 16, Robinson likened the charms of Greek wine to those of the Greek people, citing her interaction with Diamantis. Since then dozens of tourists have already visited Diamantis’s wine store on Paxos.
“We’ve become much more well-known than I’d expected,” he said. “I didn’t do anything special, just responded in a normal way to a customer who had nearly lost her entire vacation. How could I burden her with the issue of the wines as well?”
“People are too stressed about everything. I believe that if something doesn’t go your way, it’s an opportunity for improvement,” he says.
Diamantis’s wine shop in Lakka is a family business started by his father 40 years ago and passed down to his three children. “I grew up in here,” he says. “From the age of 8 I remember not summertime games but barrels of wine and beer.”
The family spent decades trying first hand to improve the image of Greek wine among foreigner visitors.
“They would try bad wine at a taverna and wake up with a headache the next day or throw up in the street. This was a common sight in touristy areas. Now things are much better, with the help of Santorini and good wineries like Boutaris, Tselepos, Silagas, Hadzidakis and Gerovassiliou, who have a presence abroad.
I believe that Greek wine will really spread its wings within the next decade,” says Diamantis. “In a world where so many things are more or less the same, Greek wine stands out.”