“Writing can be quite a lonely adventure,” says Janet Dorozynski, PhD 00, recalling the days in the late 1990s when she was living in Brussels, finishing her Concordia PhD disseration. She broke the solitude with daily strolls through her neighbourhood. Those walks ultimately led to Dorozynski's career in wine, and her current role as trade commissioner for Canadian wine, beer and spirits at the Trade Commissioner Service of Global Affairs Canada.
“There was a local shop in my neighbourhood that carried international wines,” says Dorozynski, who is responsible for international business development for the wine, beer and spirits industry. “I started doing tastings there, began to read more about wine, watched BBC wine programs and started taking wine courses.”
After graduating, Dorozynski worked at the Stellenbosch headquarters of Wines of South Africa before returning home to work in Canada’s wine industry, eventually joining the Trade Commissioner Service, becoming the country’s de facto wine ambassador.
It was an unexpected path, she admits, after completing a PhD in Humanities, specializing in demography and women's studies, for which she explored the declining birth rate in Quebec and the influence of demographic and feminist theory. “My mother always asked me why I did a PhD,” Dorozynski muses, “and then went on to work in the wine industry!”
Dorozynski later realized her career choice was aided by the keen sense of smell she had, even as a child. “I remember, as a teenager, smelling different perfumes and I had a very good memory recall.” Yet, it was the business side of the wine industry that really appealed to her.
“When you start studying wine you realize it’s much more about the history, the geography, the business, the people,” Dorozynski explains. “I work with companies who are preparing to export, or are already exporting. We help them determine how to choose markets where their products might be a good fit, and how to get an overseas agent and distributor. I also work with colleagues at certain embassies on events where companies can meet distributors, buyers and writers who write about their products.”
Canada is ‘on the radar’ of the wine world
Though not considered a wine powerhouse, Canada is “on the radar” of the wine world, says Dorozynski. “We are becoming better known internationally among knowledgeable wine consumers and specialized media as a serious wine producing country, for both icewine and table wine.
“That’s partly because of the work the Trade Commissioner Service has been doing with the wine industry by organizing tastings and providing opportunities to trade and connecting media so they can meet companies and learn and write about our products.”
Dorozynski’s interdisciplinary studies taught her key skills she uses in her work promoting Canadian wine, beer and spirits. “I can’t say enough about Concordia — about having that kind of program that encourages students to think critically from a multitude of disciplines and perspectives.
“It’s important to be thoughtful and analytical. That’s what I take away from Concordia. Through the interdisciplinary approach, I learned to be a critical thinker, to look at everything, question it and not take everything for granted.”
Dorozynski’s PhD also helped her to improve her writing skills, which have proven to be vital to her current position. “I conduct research and write content related to the sector as well as briefing notes for senior management — I write all the time,” says Dorozynski, who also writes about wine in her spare time. She is a writer and judge for the online wine publication Wine Align, the drinks columnist for Luxe Magazine Ottawa and the Canada contributor to the upcoming 5th edition of the globally renowned Oxford Companion to Wine, to be released in 2023.
“It’s critical to be able to write and communicate properly and factually, especially in light of everything happening in the world today.”