Volcanoes are all over the world, and some are even home to vineyards. It’s that geographical feature that links the wines from places like Santorini in Greece, Soave in Italy, Spain’s Tenerife Island and beyond.
There’s desire to sell more of these unique volcanic wines to U.S. consumers. The first annual International Volcanic Wines Conference took place in New York last month, and popularity for this niche group of wine seems to be on the rise. For example, Santorini’s Assyrtiko vintners have seen the price for their grapes soar to more than 3.50 euros ($4.31) from 80-euro cents ($1) per kilo over an eight-year period. Other producers have seen sales climb from 2,973 cases in 2014 to 5,726 cases last year.
Sofia Perpera, director of the Greek Wine Bureau-North America, the umbrella organization for Wines from Santorini, teamed up with Master Sommelier John Szabo, author of “Volcanic Wines: Salt, Grit and Power,” to produce a volcanic wines conference. The event brought together more than 50 wineries for the classes and walk-around tasting.
This unique group of wine is changing how some producers are approaching sales.
Christina Comito, Italian portfolio specialist for Leonardo LoCascio Selections, inspired by Szabo’s book, created a volcanic wines sales program that included educational training for distributors and their accounts as a way to segment their Italian portfolio. She said it was one of their most successful sales initiatives and they were having “constant feedback from the sales teams that customers were hungry for a concept like this.”
Szabo plans to roll out additional events and seminars over the next year to raise the profile of these wines among the industry.