Michal and Martina Mosny are being recognized as multicultural champions as selected by the South Okanagan Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership Council. Submitted photo

Michal and Martina Mosny are being recognized as multicultural champions as selected by the South Okanagan Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership Council. Submitted photo

Multicultural Champions: Landing in wine country

Champions were selected by the South Okanagan Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership Council

Michal and Martina Mosny reached a crossroads in their homeland of Slovakia.

They were operating a small boutique winery and Michal also had another full-time job working at a major winery. They were overwhelmed by the workload and had to make a decision about what direction to take with their careers.

“We both decided that we should try something crazy because maybe when we get older we might regret not doing it,” said Michal.

That something crazy turned out to be migrating from Slovakia to Canada.

“It has been crazy. From the beginning, everything has gone by so fast. But we’re taking advantage of the opportunity here and going with the flow.”

Having worked in the wine industry, the Okanagan seemed like a logical place for the couple to settle.

“We saw a documentary on TV about ‘Wineries Around The World’ and it featured wineries in the Okanagan. We did some research online and saw that the climate was favourable here and there’s wine. So, why not check it out.”

They started a vineyard management company and began consulting and managing vineyards in the Penticton area. Eventually, they connected with a group of investors who wanted to start a vineyard and winery in Summerland.

The Mosnys have experienced some negative sentiments from Canadians who are upset that they’re taking jobs away. But they feel that reaction is normal.

“If I was back home and foreigners were taking jobs in Slovakia I would feel the same way too. But it’s never been our intention just to make money and go back home. We want to live here and start a family.”

Michal feels he has something unique to offer Canada in relation to his expertise in vineyards and winemaking.

“Here in Canada, I think there is an opportunity to make wines with art and better understanding vineyards and unique wines that represent the Okanagan. The difference is making wines using only what mother-nature gives you. Not using additives.”

Michal was also fortunate to share his expertise in honey wines that are really popular in Slovakia.

“I never expected to find honey wines here. So, to get the opportunity to work with them here was very exciting.”

The couple believe their biggest success has been the launch of their own label; Winemaker’s CUT, producing a Syrah and a Sauvignon Blanc using Slovakian barrels.

Martina was an elementary school teacher, in Slovakia, teaching gifted students. But because her English wasn’t up to par she worked as a nanny. She also worked with the boys and girls club and as a child care worker with South Okanagan Immigrant Society.

After taking a bookkeeping course at Okanagan College, Martina landed a job as bookkeeper at the winery Michal was managing. But her responsibilities grew beyond bookkeeping. She started answering phones, hosting wine-tastings and other tasks.

“After a couple of years, I realized what a great opportunity this was. I could do something very interesting and still grow. I didn’t have to worry about whether I would be able to teach in Canada. That was very important to me.”

The one big feature Michal and Martina like about Canada is the friendliness.

“When you walk down the street or sit on a bench by the lake, people will say hi and talk to you. You don’t get that same reception back home in Slovakia. There is so much stress and competition there.

Our main goal here is to be happy and enjoy life … and that’s what we’re doing,” extols Michal.

“Coming here and starting from zero and having nothing. I will remember for the rest of my life. I realize I had nothing so I had nothing to lose and I find myself being very happy,” says Martina.

Celebrating multiculturalism and diversity in the community, 14 multicultural champions were selected to be featured and have their stories shared in the Penticton Western News on a monthly basis in partnership with the South Okanagan Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership Council and other partners.