I have never been to any sort of conference before, so I came to this event with few expectations. To be honest, the only reason I signed up in the first place was the possibility of joining the trip to Georgia. I didn’t sign up on time, but decided to attend the conference anyway because I had never been to Turkey and had always wanted to visit. I had low expectations in regards to Turkish wine, so I was not very wine focused either. I came to meet new people and to join the various workshops that I felt could improve my own business I run with my husband, Ettore.
Little did I know that I was to join an event that really altered how I feel about the wine business and the people in this industry. I came away from the event with new tools and new friends, the latter being the most valued. Every single person I met was passionate about their work. Every workshop I attended awarded me with new insight in how to improve not only my business but my Self. The tastings were brilliant. Most importantly, I was surprised by the many quality wines coming out of Turkey. Coming in with no expectations was a great decision on my part because I came away a better and improved person.
Turkey itself exceeded my expectations. The people were beyond generous, the wine-with some exceptions- surprisingly good and the landscape will haunt me for the rest of my life. I can’t say much about Izmir. I stayed at the Swiss Efes Hotel for the conference and didn’t leave the confines of the hotel save for a couple of meals. I did not feel like I was in Turkey but at a very nice International Hotel with superb service. The spa was a much needed haven from outside noise, a place to quiet the mind and allow the lessons from the day absorb into my mind. With so much information in such a small amount of time, I felt I was better off just focusing on workshops and absorbing information. I am still editing my notes and will be for weeks to come.
The workshops more than exceeded my expectations. All of the panelists were experts in their fields and, I felt, they all ran smoothly and on time. Besides the Grand Terroir event, my favorite workshop was on Oxygen with Maurizio Ugliano. Thanks to him I have a new understanding of Oxygen and wine and he was able to explain it well enough for a non scientific mind to understand.
At the conference I was shy. I looked at nametags and recognized them from various interactions on Facebook or Twitter but didn’t dare introduce myself. I am disappointed with myself. I kept my eyes to the floor, on my notebook and beside the friends I already knew, I did not socialize much. I figured I was the least interesting person there. What a mistake! It wasn’t until the post-trip that I started to open up, even managing to sit away from my husband a few times and engage in conversation. I wanted to say hello to so many people and didn’t, so I hope to make up for it next year.
After the conference I joined the post-trip to Cappadocia. Oh my. What a dream, what a place! Could the best of poets describe this fairy land? Perhaps Toni Morrison with a definitive sense of melancholy. We visited two wineries, walked through centuries old vineyards, visited the cave dwellings of monks, enjoyed wonderful food provided by our hosts, and, best of all, sailed through the air on a hot air balloon through the most haunting and ethereal landscape you can imagine. Photos do not do it justice.
|Ettore and I in 200 year old Emir vines in Capadoccia|
I have to admit that I was disappointed that I did not get to join the trip to Georgia. But in retrospect, I feel I had the adventure of a lifetime. I haven’t written a blog about the event because I recognize, from the workshops, they nobody really cares what I have to say about it. I plan to change how I teach wine and how I present it.
I feel bonded to the place and to the people of Turkey, to my fellow #winelovers, to new friends and I look forward to many more events in the coming years with the goal of obtaining a #winelover T-shirt!
|Öküzgözü my favorite word|
|Grand Terroir Tasting with wines from Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Lebanon|
|Turkish breakfast. Simit, I love thee|
|Cappadocia land and vines|
|A tasting of Kocabağ wine|
|Balloon ride over Magic Valley|