The wine industry in Cyprus is at a turning point, as coordinated upgrading and promotion efforts are underway in both the private and public sectors. The Cyprus Wine Consortium, consisting of 15 wineries in the private sector, has created a recognition symbol called WINECORE, which stands for Wineries of Cyprus Own-Rooted Evolution. Starting today until the first quarter of 2024, this symbol must be included on the packaging of the consortium's wines and placed on the capsules of wine bottles. It is estimated that within a year, the WINECORE logo will be featured on 100 different labels of Cypriot wine packaging. Additionally, this symbol will be used in promotional media such as banners and exhibitions. Theo Theoharis, CEO and founding member of the Cyprus Wine Consortium, states that WINECORE highlights the unique Cypriot character of its wines and will act as an essential link to consumers, both in Cyprus and abroad, to strengthen its market presence. The primary target for the launch of this symbol will be the Cypriot market, with foreign markets being selectively targeted. As part of promoting the new symbol, the ANTAMOMA wine exhibition, the only exhibition dedicated to Cypriot wines and indigenous varieties, will soon be presented overseas.
Apart from serving as an emblem of identity, this particular symbol can also be recognized as a quality seal. This is because it will only be awarded to wines that pass the Cyprus Wine Consortium's rigorous internal quality control standards.
As a result, consumers who see the emblem will know that the wine is organoleptically sound, meaning that it won't have any unpleasant aromas, such as those resulting from oxidation or reduction (strong odors from sulfur compounds) or any other winemaking errors. Wines that are chosen to feature the logo must meet the strict criteria of being made from either single-varietal or majority blends of indigenous and authorized Cypriot grape varieties.
Mr. Theoharis stated, "We have identified, promoted, and aim to globally introduce the following Cypriot grape varieties: Xynisteri, Maratheftiko, Morokanella, Giannoudi, Vasilissa, Promara, Opthalmos, Mihalis, Maroucho, Ktima Makedonias, Kanella, Spourtiko, Moscato Bianco, Flourico." However, it should be emphasized that the absence of this specific symbol on a Cypriot wine should not be interpreted as an indication of lower quality. Rather, it may simply mean that the winery does not participate in the Consortium.
A collective effort
Mr. Theoharis emphasizes that there is a need for a collective effort from wineries to further develop the image of Cypriot wine and increase its market share both locally and internationally. He stresses that the communication of the unique characteristics and advantages of Cypriot wine has not been sufficient so far.
In order to tackle this issue, the wineries under WINECORE have begun creating materials and mechanisms to promote the qualities that give Cypriot wines their unique character. This effort is being made through the WINECORE brand.
In addition to the Cyprus Wine Consortium's initiative, the Ministry of Commerce is also conducting promotional efforts for Cypriot wine, albeit at a sluggish pace. Since 2021, an action plan has been devised to establish and promote a distinct identity for Cypriot wine (branding). This includes creating a logo that symbolizes Cyprus's national wine identity, which can be utilized in all promotional activities. The plan also involves developing a website and promoting it through social media. Currently, the creation of a unified wine branding for Cypriot wine is underway. As the Minister of Energy disclosed at a recent Cyprus Wine Consortium event, the proposal for a specialized trademark is now being scrutinized by the Legal Service. After successful review, the trademark must be registered with the Registrar of Companies, followed by an objection period. Assuming no objections arise, the trademark will be introduced, and the promotion campaign will begin.
This is related to the Ministry of Commerce. It's important to mention that the development of the Cyprus Made logo is currently in progress, and it will also be utilized for promoting Cypriot wine.
Exports are on the rise
Although Cypriot wine production is high, the exports are at a low level, accounting for just 5% of the total production. Nevertheless, there has been a steady increase in wine exports every year. For instance, in 2022, exports witnessed a surge of more than 40%. In concrete terms, the value of Cypriot wine exports was €1,403,801 in 2021, while it rose to €1,990,177 in 2022. Exporting quality wine, in particular, is challenging due to stiff competition at this level, and it largely depends on the volume and quality of production. Concerning the local market, it is estimated that Cypriot wine caters to approximately 40% of the consumption, while the remaining 60% is dominated by imported wine.
New sponsorship plan worth over 2 million euros
There are also developments regarding the winemaking sector at the Industry Service level. More specifically, a new grant scheme is expected to be announced in late August or early September, which aims to support the winemaking industry by strengthening their units through equipment upgrades, technological improvements, building infrastructure enhancements, and improved production processes. This will ultimately affect the price of Cypriot wine, making it more competitive. The total amount of grants is expected to increase this year, estimated to be around 2 million euros. The first grants will be absorbed in 2024.
It should be noted that wineries are now eligible for the virtual net metering scheme. This development is of utmost importance to wineries as it will enhance the environmental footprint of Cypriot wineries, diminish the consumption of conventional energy, and is expected to have a positive impact on production costs. Moreover, it is estimated that the reduced environmental footprint will play a significant role in marketing and promoting the product in the market.
The Ministry of Agriculture has recently announced that the financing tool for implementing our viticulture policy in the current programming period until 2027 is the Strategic Plan of Cyprus for the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy. According to the announcement, more than 22 million euros are expected to be allocated to viticulturists and winemakers by the end of 2027 for implementing significant interventions in the viticulture and winemaking sector.
[This article was translated from its Greek original]