Competition – Şeyma Baş

‘My name is Şeyma Baş and I’m a wine trade professional working in strategic branding and creative marketing through my company wine-art. I was raised in Istanbul and lived in various countries like France, Italy, USA and travelled other continents to discover the world of wine. I hold the WSET Diploma and I am currently a Master of Wine Student. Moreover, I enjoy writing about wine in my blog Dionysian Impulse, which was voted for the Best New Wine Blog in 2016. Apart from wine, I enjoy dancing lindy hop, watching old movies and I never get bored of Seinfeld J!' Here is her (unedited) entry in our seminal wine competition

I was waiting at the ATM queue and listening to Lou Reed’s Berlin album. When it was finally my turn to withdraw money, I realized that my account was almost empty; only 20.5 TL was left. I could not figure out the reason.

Meanwhile, I saw the bus approaching and ran towards it to catch it so that I could attend a workshop I had enrolled in. It was a difficult period for me. I was 22 years old studying engineering in Istanbul and trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life. It’s a struggle we all go through at one point of our lives, right? I only knew that I would be happy, if I could find a way to keep myself excited and curious continuously.

Having all these thoughts in my head, I entered the classroom. Özcan Yurdalan, a prominent documentary photographer, a pilgrim and a writer in Turkey was already in the room preparing his presentation. He started talking about his book “Sagarmatha Eteklerinde / On The Skirts of Sagarmatha” together with his impressive shots from Nepal. “Sagarmatha, known as Everest by most people, is not merely the highest point of the earth. Its name in Nepal is Sagarmatha and it means “more than the value it has in meters.” Yurdalan’s voice was soothing while he was recounting his adventures on the road. He continued: “I travel more to east rather than west, because I believe that these countries are still not very consumerist and I can discover other ways of living.” Nepal for instance is the meeting point of Buddhism and Hinduism and there, he witnesses different religious rituals, and discovers the daily life of people and stays on the streets to grasp the real spirit of the place.

The more I listened to him; the more I felt the need to find a way to discover the world with such a modest attitude. Yurdalan’s stories were inspiring, and my magical moment occurred just after the workshop. I somehow ended up having coffee with Yurdalan, explaining him how I was into photography over the last couple of years. He figured out that I was in some kind of search in life. He listened but he did not say much. I asked him to sign my book. He smiled and wrote:

“No matter what you do in life, make sure that it keeps you on the roads.”

There are some moments in life that simply makes you feel like something big is going to happen. You don’t know exactly what, but you know things are going to change. It creates a bubble in your stomach, a bubble of excitement, awe, joy, that draws you closer to the unknown. For me, that moment transpired when I read the note of Yurdalan.

I left the workshop and decided to walk for a while. Suddenly I remembered the bottles of Chianti and Rioja from the previous night and remembered where I had spent my money. Back then; I did not even know how to pronounce these names. Wine is quite expensive in Turkey, and I was just saving money from my student loan to buy wine not to get drunk or to party but to understand this magical drink. Since then I’ve been exploring wine’s connection with people, geography, culture, politics, government policies, and tradition.

That 20.5 TL changed my life. At that moment, I realized that I already knew what I was supposed to do in life. It was wine that would keep me on the roads and nurture my excitement and curiosity. It was a way to discover the world and be involved with various issues while being in contact with people.

Throughout these eight years, I have lived in three different countries and travelled to other continents. I have met a diverse group of people; farmers, grape growers, flying winemakers, storytellers, marketers, talented sellers, and journalists. My interaction with them changed me. I’ve learned their languages, challenged myself with tons of exams. I have tasted unforgettable wines. But these wines were never the only reason that kept me going. After eight years, I still have the same excitement I had on that very first day. Is it passion? I doubt that. I believe it’s just a way of connecting with life. And that’s why it never vanishes. 

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