Megan Tymura is one of those few lucky souls who get to write off wine as a business expense.
“It’s like any job; sometimes I’ll sit in my pajamas all day and plug away at forecasting,” says Tymura. “Of course there’s massive perks to it.”
The provincial manager for Philippe Dandurand Wines Ltd. recently returned from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to tour the wineries of South America her company represents – once-in-a-lifetime, except for the fact that she’ll likely be returning there next year.
“They want us to learn more, so obviously the opportunity to travel and things like that” are built in, says Tymura. Though, they notably add even more lustre to the job.
Tymura’s foray into wine sales is unique in the industry.
She began working at the liquor mart part-time while attending university, and found herself thinking about the job when she went home.
“I really just started getting into it, and I realized there was more to wine than white zinfandel, y’now?
“History, geography, culture, marketing, business – all those things all come together in one industry.”
She began taking advantage of the internal education at Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries and wine courses at Banville & Jones, and ended up working her way up to the product consultant position at a store – sort of the designated product expert on the floor.
After completing International Sommelier Guild courses (Wine Fundamentals I and II – and she’s since earned her Sommelier Diploma), she realized there is sort of a wine appreciation community, and she felt at home.
“You become part of this small little community doing social tastings and whatnot. I got so immersed in that,” says Tymura.
“I worked my way through the liquor marts… and the agency thing peaked my interest,” says Tymura.
Her first sales gig was for the independently owned and operated Amphora Imports, working alongside Clarence Jackson. “We were just completely aligned,” says Tymura. “It was just about finding really cool, interesting products.”
But Tymura had an obvious knack for sales, and people were noticing. “I guess you work hard, you build, and then you get recognized in the industry,” she explains.
She was approached for a position with the largest premium wine producer in the world.
After climbing to the role of sales manager for Manitoba and Saskatchewan, she decided to find a less office-oriented gig. “At one point, I felt like I could’ve been selling photocopiers,” says Tymura, who relishes doing ground-level work in stores and at events.
Tymura says she wouldn’t trade her time in the corporate world for anything, as she learned so much about selling. “As you go more corporate, you have to become more corporate… It’s a lot of strategic stuff.”
Tymura again feels like she’s at the right place at the right time at Philippe Dandurand. It’s a “Canadian agency that really seeks the best wine in the world,” says Tymura. “So I got to get back to why I started.
“I’m actually selling and tasting and teaching and smelling wines.”
Though Tymura doesn’t have a business degree, something many wine reps are equipped with, her extensive wine training is unique to her and comes in handy.
The diploma program she took was grueling, and included a blind tasting where you could have to determine the age, country, region – and sometimes even the producer of the wine, plus an essay question could ask you to define any agricultural, historical or scientific elements of wine. “The material is so vast that it becomes overwhelming. You’d have to study one region of France for three weeks just to understand every commune, every hill.”
Though she’s working as the sole rep for her company in Winnipeg, Tymura’s favourite part about her job is the relationships she’s built in the industry.
“My biggest perk is actually meeting all the local people who want to push wine forward.
“You just see so many cool things that Winnipeggers are doing: dinner on the river, Table for 1200… it’s extremely beneficial to have your wines there, but the bigger benefit is just being a part of it.”