CULTURE

Oenorama 2012: Organizers set to pull cork at wine fair

«It?s a classic case of half-full or half-empty; it?s a miracle the event is taking place at all, given that many other exhibitions are being canceled every day,? Dean Stergides, organizer of the Oenorama trade show, told Kathimerini English Edition last Friday. ?Although the number of participants is down significantly compared to 2010, we are still managing to hold the show, which will cover about 10,000 square meters on two levels, uniting winemakers and machinery.?

The country?s leading wine trade exhibition, Oenorama was held for the first time in 1994. Besides showcasing wine producers and the equipment they use, the event, which starts this Friday, March 16, and runs through March 19 at the EKEP Exhibition Center in Metamorphosi, northern Athens, will involve various parallel events, including the Best Sommelier 2012 finals, a workshop on wine evaluation through winetasting sessions, a round table on the wine industry in times of crisis, as well as a presentation on wine and social media.

According to Stergides, winemakers participating at this year?s Oenorama are regrouping — many collectively, by representing regions or different distributors, for instance — while those attending independently are doing so through smaller stands. Nevertheless, Oenorama 2012 will showcase the produce of about 75 local wineries, as well as a number of international labels.

Besides local wine aficionados and industry folk, Oenorama 2012 will also welcome buyers from the United States, Canada and Russia, thanks to an initiative supported by the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO). Their presence will be appreciated by local winemakers, who are looking to exports as part of the solution to the current cash flow issues plaguing Greece.

?The bottle wine market in the local restaurant business has completely collapsed, imported wines even more so. So that?s one problem, the other is the difficulties of getting paid by shops and restaurants,? noted Stergides. ?They are really hurting and a lot of them are focusing on the export market.?

Another recent trend in the sector is lower priced wines being developed by local wine making facilities.

?There is a lot of talk about cheaper wines. It seems that better-known wineries decided to keep prices steady for well-known labels or give small discounts on well-known brands and launch new ones which are inexpensive,? said Stergides. ?The best example of this is the new wines by Boutaris, Simia Stixis, a white, a rose and a red, that will be presented at Oenorama and will be selling at just below 6 euros.?

The event?s customary Oenorama restaurant is being catered by L?Odeur this year and will focus on Greek flavors, while the return of the Oyster Bar will add an Atlantic Ocean touch through 18-euro platters of 12 Fine de Claires.

Organizers advise visitors that police will be administering random breathalyzer tests around roads near the venue.

The EKEP Exhibition Center is on the 12th km of the Athens-Lamia national road in Metamorphosi. Opening hours: Friday from 3 to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. General admission is 12 euros and is valid for the duration of the fair. For more information, log on to www.oenorama.com or call 210.766.0560.