Long way with a glass

Светлана Оберман, проект "Виноголик"

It so happen’s that my arrival in the wine world was delayed, It would have been great to discover earlier. But everyone has their own path & journey to travel, perhaps I would not be here if I had chanced upon things earlier.

Allow me to introduce myself, I am Svetlana and I am a Vinogolic! This is not a medical diagnosis, this is my profession. Almost 20 years ago, I graduated from journalism college, worked in a newspaper and administrative institutions, and then for a long ten years I abandoned my profession and ... began to sell quality women’s clothing.

How & why did this happen? These were difficult times of crisis for Russia, it was necessary to survive, feed the family. I was very young, and I wanted to have everything beautiful - clothes, shoes, lipstick. I sold beautiful lingerie to women, making them happy, and allowed myself some material happiness in return. But somewhere in the depths of my soul I wanted to change activities, and start re-writing articles.

The crises did not stop, the journalistic staff of newspapers and magazines, television channels and radio stations did not grow, but decreased. I also wanted to choose a specific direction about which I could write, and not be a universal journalist. And here, thanks to social networks, there became opportunities within electronic media as a blogger.

My long-time passion for wine encouraged me to review wine discounts in stores. Every evening, returning home, I went to the shops, where I took photos with red and yellow discount price tags. So the hashtag #thriftyvinogolic was born, and people began to trust my taste and recommendations. This was all pursued whilst I maintained my employment within the clothing industry.

Once I broke away from a travel group in Lisbon. There I walked for hours alone, enjoyed the local cuisine and wines and ... lost my way one evening. In search of the road to the hotel, I wandered down a narrow street and started asking for directions. A pleasant woman came out to meet me, who helped set up the gps-navigator in my head and invited me to go down to her tasting cellar and drink a glass of wine. We spent two hours with her, told each other the stories of our lives and split up, as if we knew each other from birth! Then I understood: wine allows you to touch the souls of people.

Once I got a call from my former job and asked for help: a group of agricultural workers comes from Austria, we have to go around the neighborhood and show what our land is rich with. I agreed to help, and took a group of Austrians to the winery in Abrau-Durso. "Wow, this is Russian Switzerland!" - the guests were surprised. - "And what are the oldest cellars! And what a great sparkling wine!" I shared their delight and more and more wanted to link my life with the wine culture. But! I still sold panties!

Finally, once arriving in Italy with gifts in the form of bottles of Russian wine, she began to tell her friends that Russian winemaking is moving in leaps and bounds, and the quality of Russian wines is getting better and better every day, they take medals at contests, and I am very proud of the wines that are produced in Russia. My friends told me: "So you are a real wine enthusiast! You need to learn from a sommelier!" And I began to study, while I still worked selling clothing.

Rumors spread quickly, and more and more people began to ask my advice on choosing wine, then people began to come and asked them to organize a tour to the winery, and then people came who asked me to become their guides to the wineries in Italy. I began to compose my own individual wine programs, including trips to authentic restaurants, and wineries located in the most secluded villages, and unusual concerts in churches - music and wine for me are inextricably linked. And in the evenings, we gathered with tourists in the kitchen of a rented house, my Italian friends came, and together we prepared dishes of national cuisine. It was so soulful, so touching, that the stereotypes of my Russian tourists about the beautiful country immediately collapsed, and they began to love it with all their hearts.

In order to make Russian people even more in love with wine, because yes, you will be surprised, but the level of wine culture in our country is still very low, and people prefer to drink vodka for any reason, I began to practice “wine and soul” trips in Russia . Early in the morning we went to the winery, where we got acquainted with the local traditions of wine production, had a picnic in the vineyards, and I noticed how tourists were deeply respectful of the work of winemakers. As they begin to appreciate every drop of the precious drink. This motivated me to develop wine tourism further and further. Although I still sold panties.

Once I heard people say: "Turkish wine is no good, poor quality!" And she was very surprised: can wine be a nasty thing? It's no secret that a lot of Russian tourists prefer Turkey for a holiday. They come, settle in all-inclusive hotels, drink the wine they are offered there, and pass judgment on all the wines of Turkey by wine in the hotel.

I embarked on a journey to Turkey and conducted a global study. To my surprise discovered an abundance of excellent wines from international and local varieties! Unfortunately, they are not sold at all in Russia. Then I decided that I should organize a wine tour to Turkey and teach the guests to choose and drink good local wines.

Oh yes! We have come to the fact that I no longer sell panties. From now on, I am a wine guide, wine journalist and wine blogger. How did this happen? One day my colleague, an independent television videographer  travelled with me on a wine tour as a photographer. On the way back, he suggested that I make short videos in which I would talk about wine. We constructed a temporary studio in my clothing store, installed professional video equipment and made our 10 first commercials.

Then, every trip with tourists to wine festivals and wineries, we recorded a travelling reportage. We later began to combine international travel with tourists and filming major wine exhibitions. Over the past year, our film crew had so many business trips that there was no time to engage in the sale of linen, and I now rightly call myself a wine journalist. Although this profession is only recently grown to develop in my native country of Russia, I will influence a change for the best in this area! After all, wine can unite people from all walks of life from around the world ! This was revealed to me during one of my earliest experiences & during my exploration of Portugal years before. I am now embarking on an ever growing journey, confidently, sometimes with a little hesitation, raising my glass to the world of wine!

Svetlana Oberman