The BC wine industry is becoming more diverse, thanks to free wine education for aspiring BIPOC wine professionals.  

Vinica Education Society’s Equity in Wine Leadership program is breaking down barriers for British Columbians from minority ethnic and racial groups to participate and advance in the BC wine industry. Free for qualified participants, Vinica’s program includes globally recognized Wine and Spirit Education Trust credentials, BC Wine Ambassador courses, mentorship from top international BIPOC wine pros, and internships at BC wine businesses. 

With two Equity in Wine Leadership program cohorts already in management-level wine jobs across the province, program alumni are encouraging even more BIPOC British Columbians to consider the wine industry as a stable, enjoyable career path.

“Thanks to Vinica, I’m working my dream job right now as an On-Premise Territory Manager in Vancouver and Whistler,” shares alumna Safana Gangji. “I get to meet people in the industry, try out some of the best restaurants in Canada, and talk about wine all day.” 

Gangji encourages any BIPOC British Columbian with an interest in the wine industry to apply to the program, regardless of their previous work experience.

“Before taking this program, my experience with wine was just that I liked to drink it. I applied with the expectation to be able to feel more confident when choosing a wine on a list. That quickly progressed into me now recommending what wines should be placed on lists in some of my favourite restaurants. I feel more comfortable in the wine world and finally feel like I’m a part of the industry. This wouldn’t have been possible without the opportunity to participate in the Equity in Wine Leadership program.”

Vinica’s flagship program is strongly supported by BC wineries, retailers, distributors, writers, and restaurants. Wine Growers BC has provided their BC Wine Ambassador program each year through the Equity in Wine Leadership program, equipping grads with detailed local BC wine knowledge. 

The hybrid training takes place online and in person between February 21 and April 21, 2023, with three weeks of classes in Kelowna and a two-week internship. Travel and accommodation support is provided for participants from outside the Okanagan Valley.

Vinica Education Society received $166,800 in funding for delivery of the Equity in Wine Leadership program through the Community Workforce Response Grant program. This funding was provided by the Government of Canada through the Canada-BC Workforce Development Agreement and the Province of British Columbia. 

The program has additional support from Wine Growers BC, the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, and the Vancouver Wine Festival.  

BIPOC British Columbians seeking a new career path, with an interest in wine, should visit vinica.ca to learn more. Participants from across the province are welcome.

Photos: Safana Gangji, graduate of Vinica Education Society’s Equity in Wine Leadership program

Vinica Education Society is a not-for-profit society incorporated in British Columbia, Canada, focussed on diversifying the wine industry through innovative education and professional mentorship. We support people that are passionate about wine, but are experiencing systemic barriers to participation and advancement, to develop into leaders in the wine industry. vinica.ca @vinica.ca

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