Martina and Michal (a.k.a. Michael) grew up in the small town in Slovakia with a poetic name – Ruzomberok. This is where they met and fell in love. The couple had a very active lifestyle. They loved to go skiing in the winter and engaged in other recreational activities. Travelling and attending cultural spots – theatres, museums and opera houses – was a big part of their lives.
“We are big fans of opera and tried to apply our love for opera and classical music to our business, as you will see from our tasting room décor,” shares Martina.
Michal worked as an accountant and Martina taught at a school for gifted children. They also had a small, boutique-style winery, which was more of a hobby than a business. They loved their lives but longed for a life-changing adventure. They wanted to start their family and build their future in a new and exciting country. Their destiny brought them to Canada. And not to one of the most common destinations for immigrants, such as Vancouver, but to our small and beautiful Penticton.
When Martina and Michal moved to Canada they did not know anyone here.
“At first, we lived from paycheque to paycheque. I didn’t have a job and only Michal was working. We had only basic things. For example, I used only salt and pepper as spices during the first months. When you are in a new country, you are trying not to spend all your savings at once. We had to buy a car because it was necessary to get to work. We were counting every penny, but it is funny that when you have nothing, it is such freedom,” says Martina.
“Our families are in Slovakia. My mom is a teacher and my father is a chemist. I have one sister; she is a dental surgeon. I am very proud of her and I miss all the opportunities to be with her. It was very hard when my nephew was born. I really wanted to be with my sister, to support her. I thought I would move back to Slovakia. And when I was pregnant… now I have a son Henry… I was thinking how I wanted to be surrounded by my family. I also have a grandmother, who is getting weaker and weaker, and I hope to go visit next year, so she could meet our son – her grandson.”
Martina and Michal didn’t plan to open their own winery, although both of them have passion and experience in the winemaking field. They started off by working at a winery in the region, but, after putting their hearts and souls into this business, they had to leave it.
“I think we were a little bit naïve and trusted people too much. It was the time when I was the happiest because I was pregnant, but also, we lost all our stability at that time. And it was the main reason for creating our own winery. We put our hearts into the project that wasn’t our own and lost everything. It taught us to be more cautious. We wanted to have our own business where nobody will take from us. That is why we called our winery ‘Winemaker’s Cut’ – like a film director’s cut, something personal that belongs to the people that created it. Finally, it is our own cut for our own ‘movie,’” says Martina.
Martina and Michal started to produce wine in 2015 and opened a tasting room at the wine village in Oliver in June of 2021. The winery is doing very well, growing and producing more and more wine. Their hope for the future is to keep making good wine that people appreciate.
“I believe in destiny and think that everyone should listen to their heart, guts or instinct. This way you can follow your path and reach what you dream about. We always say with Michal that if you are trying to force something, to be somebody or build something not because your heart wants it but because it is a good opportunity to make money, sometimes it doesn’t work. But if you follow your passion, it usually works,” concludes Martina with a wide smile.
This profile, written by Elmira Galiyeva, is a part of the Community Champions campaign of the South Okanagan-Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership (SOSLIP). The Partnership project is led by the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services (SOICS), which provides a range of services for newcomers to the region. The article was previously published on Castanet.