Is it possibile to be completely obsessed about the wine world for over 20 years?
Of course, the answer is YES! From the moment I landed as a young woman at the airpot in Florence in the mid 90’ies with two simple wine booklets in my luggage, I was thrilled to be going to a country that had a strongly connected wine culture. And I was dying to find out more…
The Bumpy & Windy road
I could tell you that I came, I saw, and I wined. And, eventually, that’s true. But the path was long and not always so glamorous. Surely the dream was there, but the means were few and the bumps and curves in the road to get there were many. Yet wine was the steady passion and revelation.
Firstly, you may start on a micro level, working in a wine bar in central Florence. Only to discover how much fun wine can be. And those were the days. You’re busy merely earning a living, yet you taste every day, and you go to the Italian AIS sommelier course to try to get your bearings. You get invited to fancy lunches, dinners, visiting wineries for the very first time. You get to chat with owners, makers, distributors, snobs & go back to your job and transmit to the just curious who come see you for a glass at the bar. It’s this wine culture that you finally get immersed in. And now you are truly part of it. You’re connected. You start to grasp the entity of a region, but you feel it goes far beyond that. And that you can only really touch it by travelling…
I never took the final Sommelier exam, whereas I completed all 3 levels, some multiple times as I decided to start over. The main reason was that I got interrupted along the way with other life events. It just never was the right time for me. And by the time it could have taken it, I was over it. And this is the second reason. I never really dag the approach. Though I loved the subject of wine, I felt like it was dissected in the wrong way, at least for me, and I eventually got bored and disinterested. The AIS in Italy, at the time, felt like an old gentleman’s club. Besides, I didn’t want to be a Somm in a restaurant anyway.
The Happily Ever After…
In 2004 I created the website http://www.tuscan-wine-tours.com which today is the tour operator Grape Tours that I run together with my husband, Pierre Gouttenoire. So years of hard work pass by, building a concept that was in its infant stages, whilst touring hundreds of wineries. A handsome French wine maker joins a few tours that I’m guiding in 2009 and fate had it that we were soulmates and are now in our 10th year of marriage, and our family has doubled!
We pursue wine experiences together with our Grape Tours & Grapetrotters brands, and wine education through the Italian Wine Institute in Florence. Here I will share a combination of personal experiences along with ones that we enjoy through trips with other travellers.
Thanks for reading & I sure hope some of the posts that you’ll find on this blog (in the near future) may inspire you to travel for wine!
Rebecca Christophersen Gouttenoire