Once upon a time circumstances made me change my travel plans and I happened to land in Portugal. Here I was surprised by the beauty of nature, cultural heritage, traditions and delicious food. Portugal became a place where I started to see wine in a more wider perspective.
After visiting Portugal, I got so excited about its wines, that I started to look for information. A decade ago internet was slower and web pages for wine producers were less common thing. Nevertheless I had managed to make my selection of wine producers and wines that I would like to taste. The next step was to visit a fair. I was intimidated but curious enough to dive into this wine adventure. At the fair I had an opportunity to get to know interesting and passionated personalities, who really love what they do. I believe, that some of their passion they passed to me.
As at that time there wasn't too much information about Portuguese wines abroad, I felt that I could do something about it. "And why not to open Portuguese wine place abroad?" was my idea. Some meetings and the preparation works started. Nine month later "Garrafeira" was opened in Riga, Latvia.
My wine story
Beside a self study and learning directly from the winemakers I felt that I needed some academic studies to structure my knowledge. So I decided to upscale my legal knowledge with the knowledge about wine.
Along this years I have been studying in different internationally renown entities, such as International Faculty for Executives (IFE), Wine And Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS). Each entity has it own specifics, but all of them have given me knowledge about and around wine and spirits, food pairing, service, marketing and communication with clients.
Academic studies have enriched my practical experience, that permitted me to participate as a judge and wine critic in national and international wine competitions, such as Concurso Vinhos de Portugal, Berliner Wine Trophy, Portugal Wine Trophy, Mondial des Vins Extremes, Virtus International Awards, Concurso de Vinhos Douro Superior and Prova Cega Uva de Ouro.
As Portuguese wines were the ones that brought me into this amazing world, I with a great honour carry the title of "Ambassador of wines of Portugal" attributed by Vini Portugal and honour to be chosen and attested as "CERTIFIED PORT EDUCATOR" by Port and Douro Wines Institute (IVDP).
For me wine world is never ending story. There is always something new to learn and discover. Sometimes I think that more I learn, less I know about wine. But what I know for sure that it is exciting journey and you are more than welcome to join it!
BOTTLED ASSETS founder Ilona Akulova