Wine was always a staple on Steve Kriaris dinner table growing up. It’s safe to even say it was in his cultural DNA. His father emigrated to Canada from a small village outside Pylos in the lush wine-growing region of Messinia in Southern Greece. He brought with him family traditions and wine-making secrets that were handed down to him by his father, and generations before him. Steve grew up with the sights, sounds— and smells of winemaking at home in Toronto.
Fast forward to the year 2000 when Kolonaki Group was founded and Steve began importing natural mineral water from Greece. During several trips to Greece and visits to off-the-beaten track towns and villages— and countless samples of local varieties of wines— he realized that these treasures were not accessible to consumers in his native Canada. He immediately began importing boutique Greek wines from various regions of Greece and introducing multitudes of Canadians to Greece’s best-kept wine secrets.
The portfolio expanded and today, Kolonaki Group imports over 50 different types of Greek wines from practically every wine-growing region throughout Greece. This includes main stream grape varieties like Xinomavro, Assyrtiko, Moschofilero & Agiorgitiko to smaller unknown grapes like Vilana, Kotsifali & Athiri. Mainstay regions like Santorini, Nemea, Naoussa & Crete to smaller little area like Peza, Limnos & Rapsani.
Steve expanded his passion for wines by creating his own. Thalia, one of Greek mythology’s Nine Muses and the one dedicated to creativity was the name and inspiration behind Thalia Wine. Produced in three varieties— red wine, white wine and rose, Thalia Wines come from grapes grown with love on the island of Crete. Thalia has expanded with great success in Canada, available at numerous restaurants and LCBO outlets. In addition Thalia is available in the UK, Germany, Greece and her US debut will be closer to the end of 2015. Thalia is even the official wine at Ikea Restaurants in Ontario Canada.
Steve’s next evolution came from an idea to make these Greek treasures available to more people— especially those away from the large urban centers. His desire to share good, quality Greek wines has resulted in ShopGreekWine.com— the first ever online wine e-store exclusively for Greek wines. Buying wine online is currently only available in Canada but the US expansion will happen this coming summer/fall season.