Since I began Savvy Company 10 years ago, there are two questions that I am constantly being asked:
“I was away on vacation in ‘wherever you’ve just been’ and found this outstanding wine. Is there a way that I can order more & have it shipped to Ontario? The winery owner said that they would do it no problem!”
“I would like to get involved in the wine industry. How do I become a wine agent?”
If I had a loonie…no, make that a toonie….for each time these questions come up in a conversation while I have a glass of wine in hand, I would be drinking Champagne every day!
The wine industry is fascinating. I have found that the people involved are typically interesting, well-travelled and have a joie de vivre that is contagious. Just step into the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival (November 6-12 at the Ottawa Convention Center) during the afternoon while it is typically full of industry folks and you can talk to winemakers and winery owners all over the world who have come to Ottawa to showcase their wines – white wines, red wines, sparkling wines, you name it they make it. Or closer to home, attend Outstanding in their Fields wine tasting event this Friday October 19 at the National Arts Centre where 23 winemakers from Niagara will be showcasing their hard to find wines.
While you are at these events to enjoy wines, the winemakers are often looking for people to help them sell their wine. Becoming a representative of a winery while holding down your day job or starting a wine agency from the ground up are two ways to be a part of the rapidly growing wine industry.
Let’s crunch the numbers…
During 2011-2012 fiscal year, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) reported sales of over $3.2 billion worth of imported alcoholic beverages – a 6% increase over the previous year – even in a challenging economic environment. More than any other consumer product, the alcoholic beverage industry has the ability to weather periods of slow or negative economic growth. There is the saying that ‘people will drink in the good times and they will need a drink in bad times too.’
There is no ‘how to’ manual about working in the wine industry. In fact, there are rarely job postings on Workopolis or Craig’s List either. Those who know of wine jobs are often ‘in the biz.’ In fact, just last week two wineries contacted me asking if would recommend an agent to sell their wines.
So how to get a jump start on a job in the wine industry?
Every year we host a seminar entitled ‘Importing Wine for Pleasure and Profit’ by renowned industry expert Steven Trenholme. Steven conducts this seminar in Toronto twice a year and it sells out quickly because he knows everything AND everyone in the wine industry. In his 30+ year career, Steven has been a wine agent, a brand manager for Mosel wines (of Germany), the Canadian representative for South African Wines, a ‘head hunter’ for numerous wine companies to recruit people as wine agents and to top it all off, manager of a national wine agency. Steven has the ‘how tos’ for the above two questions that I am always asked!
If you are intrigued about the wine industry or are already an agent, you will find Steven’s day-long seminar invaluable. Many of Ontario’s top wine importers and agents started their careers after attending this seminar. Several Savvy Sommeliers on my team – myself included – have gained valuable insight to importing wines, as well as learning the ins and outs of the operations and processes of the LCBO & the SAQ in Quebec.
“There are still hundreds of wine suppliers around the world actively looking for importers to represent them in Canada, so there are certainly opportunities to develop a full or part-time career in the wine industry”, reports Steven.
Rest assured that your head will be spinning from all of the information you collect at his seminar, yet Steven is only a few clicks away to help you get started or answer additional questions. He is a wealth of knowledge and THE man to know if you are curious about working in the wine industry or importing your favorite wines back after a trip abroad.
We are currently planning for the 2014 calendar for this seminar. To be notified of the seminar dates once they are set, email us email@example.com Cheers!