Award win sends CFWI wine instructor on Australian adventure


She’s a Niagara native who has been cultivating a career in the wine industry at Niagara College, now Britnie Bazyelwski is ready to embark on an adventure down under as the recipient of Peter Lehmann Wines Mentor Award. 

As the first recipient of the bi-annual Mentor Award, Bazyelwski will travel to the Barossa wine region in Southern Australia with mentor Anthony Gismondi for a week-long adventure from March 14 to March 21. She will participate in hands-on wine harvesting, vineyard tours, experience the history and culture of the region, as well as Melbourne’s dynamic food and wine scene.

Bazyelwski said that winning the award felt “surreal.” “My fellow mentees are all dynamos in their respective wine communities and are beacons for how the Canadian wine industry will evolve over the next 15 years,” she said.

She is most looking forward to the opportunity to spend time with Anthony Gismondi.

“He is an amazing wealth of knowledge and his perspective on the future of the Canadian wine culture is invigorating,” she said “Align with that, the zeal that the Aussie wine community has for sharing their craft and passion for great wine, I am sure that this will undoubtedly be a trip that will not be forgotten.”

Bazyelwski has deep roots in Niagara region’s wine community.“I grew up literally in the vines as my father has long been a vineyard labourer and vineyard manager in the Niagara region,” she said.

While she had intended to pursue a different career with plans to write her LSATs and apply to law school, a part-time position at a local winery sparked her passion for the world of wine. Her interest led her to apply to Niagara College’s Certified Sommelier program where she gained certification from the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers.

“Jennifer Wilhelm, program coordinator for the wine programs was my first wine professor and one of the many people I can thank for my current success,” she said.

She feels that the most intriguing idea of studying wine and viniculture is that the topic is endless. “Never in a million years will you ever be able to know all there is to know on the topic,” she said. “Winemaking evolves, our sensory perceptions evolve and mother nature continues to surprise us each vintage with exciting new growing conditions.”

Bazyelwski has been working at Niagara College since June 2013 as wine program support liaison and as a part-time instructor at NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute.

After she was nominated for the award by wine writer and NC wine instructor Christopher Waters, she was then selected and shortlisted with a group of five Canadian wine dynamos who travelled to Kelowna, B.C. to participate in a retreat. All five participants were all asked to submit a response to the question, “What do you intend to do to influence Canadian wine culture in the next 15 years?” Bazyelwski won over the judges with her goal to reinvigorate Canadian Wine Culture over the next 15 years with the creation of a Canadian Wine Cooperative to bring Canadian wines to people around the world, which included a strong social media platform.

“Britnie is an important part of the next generation of the Canadian wine industry,” said Matthew Lane, Peter Lehmann Wines vice-president – Americas. “She’s dynamic, smart and is helping build the Canadian Industry through her work with her students. We have no doubt that she will continue to grow through this once-in-a-lifetime trip to experience winemaking in Australia first-hand.”

“While it was a tough decision amongst the mentees, we were won over by Britnie’s overwhelming enthusiasm on creating great wine culture in Canada,” said Lane. “Her presentation confirmed what we saw in Kelowna – her pledge to engage Canadians of all types on social media platforms to spurn a nation-wide movement to embrace the world.”

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