Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to further develop the extant export problems literature by focusing on a context that has attracted limited attention so far, namely the wine sector. The objective is to examine empirically Greek wine firms' perceptions of the factors that may impede their export activities. Design/methodology/approach – Primary data were gathered from 110 wine firms that responded to a battery of exporting problem items. A combination of exploratory, confirmatory and cluster analyses were employed to classify and profile firms according to their perceptions about the frequency of export problems. Findings – Three clearly distinct clusters were formed. The results indicate that export problems are likely to occur in firms that are more passive in terms of export activities than in firms that adopt active and competitive export postures. Research implications/limitations – The findings are interpreted and discussed in the light of extant theory. Particular attention is paid to the implications for management and public policy administrators. The study is confined to a single country/single industry context and provides an overview of the problems experienced only by indigenous wine firms in export markets. Originality/value – Although the study corroborates the extant literature, it is innovative in that the sample, i.e. the census population of Greek exporting wine firms, lends more credence to the findings for the particular sector and the export problems literature.