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A story of Costa Lazaridi’s wine and success

30 September 2011 / 21:09:09  GRReporter
4246 reads

Victoria Mindova

Love of wine could be a creative force, leading to real success, not only to hedonistic extravagance, as many would assume. An example of this is the Greek winemaker Costa Lazaradi who for 20 years is dedicated to the art of searching for new flavours and colours in winemaking. He has raised this activity to a higher level than a regular production and trade and one of his many initiatives is the creation of Greece's first museum of wine.

Costa Lazaridi comes from the northern Greek city of Drama, from a family the main activity of which was manufacturing and trading of marble. He went to Germany at the age of18 to study and help the family business with marble find new markets. At that time, wine is a hobby.

"After some time, the family grew and we could not all be in the marble business. Therefore, I decided that I could make my hobby a profession. It was the early eighties," Lazaridi told GRReporter. Then, he started with 85 acres of vineyards in Drama and the company produced its first wine after three years. In 1986, he founded the private company Constantin Lazaridi – Wine and Bottling, which is the first production unit of wine and local winery in Drama. In 1992, the initiative expanded and the company is renamed Domaine Costa Lazaridi SA, based near Adriani, Drama. The company is the first fully organized winery-distillery in the region, designed by the architect and artist Yannis Nanos. It has modern equipment and facilities, underground cellars, barrels, and the first state-of-the-art complex of alcohol distillation in Greece. Lazaridi’s wines gain laurels worldwide and win the gold medals at prestigious international competitions in France, Canada and Germany.

"The three most important things to become a good winemaker are quality, hard work and good team," said Costa Lazaridi. According to him, whoever is willing to engage in winemaking can not afford to relax or feel tired. However, he is clear that efforts are paying off. Quality must be of no compromise, the businessman added. Competition in this sector is strong and there is no room for roundabouts. There is no way to succeed without a good team of employees and associates, Lazaridi said, adding that he is lucky to have such. In his team, a Bulgarian family works and supports the idea with the same enthusiasm with which Lazaridi talks about his creation.

The formula is successful and in 2000, the company is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange. In the same year began the production of balsamic vinegar known as Aceto Botanico ADRIANI, which becomes the first Greek balsamic vinegar from local wineries HACCP and subsequently, ISO certified. The production technology of the full-flavoured vinegar is unique and it takes 8-10 years the primary ingredients to ferment to obtain a small bottle of elegant gourmet taste of the end product. At the beginning of the new millennium, the first vineyards for organic farming are planted on the shore of the Marathon Lake.

Production expands, the company does export to 18 countries and Lazaridi is preparing the next step. In 2006, he opens the complex Oenotria Land Costa Lazaridi on an area of 10.5 thousand square metres. It houses a conference hall with 400 seats, a hall for parties, a professional kitchen made to the highest international hospitality standards, an outdoor barbecue for large parties, a pool and a chapel for weddings and christenings, and office space plus parking lot. The pearl of the complex, however, is the wine museum of presses, pumps, tools for processing and winemaking from the 18th century to today as well as distillation equipment from the 16th century to the most modern facilities.

One of the most impressive exhibits in the museum is an Ancient Greek slab of 300 BC, on which the law on the rules of production and compliance with the authenticity of wine, according to the area from which it originates is written. "What we have forgotten over the years is not gone forever. Anything we could win back step by step," said Lazaridi, making association between the wisdom and the developed civil awareness of ancient Greece and the modern times that their descendants survive.

According to the winemaker, export will make his initiative emerge from today's crisis. Today, the company exports about 30% of its annual production, while the local market absorbs the other 70%. The goal is this ratio to change in favour of exports, the target markets remaining Europe, USA and Russia. There, Domaine Costa Lazaridi’s wines have their place, but now their share should increase. Another long term goal for the winemaker of Drama are Asian markets, which are largely still untouched by the taste of Greek wine, but just a sip of them will open a whole new world.

Tags: CompaniesCosta LazaridiWineMiseum of wine
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