Kathy Monroe, who 'retired' to Avondale about nine years ago, breeds Norwegian Fjord horses and is actively involved in growing grapes for the province's burgeoning wine industry.
About a year and a half ago, Monroe, who is also a municipal councillor, read a review that referred to Nova Scotia as the 'Napa of the North.' Recognizing what a great marketing opportunity that was, she registered the domain name for future website use. The website is now up and running, and she's promoting the region to outside investors.
“One of the first things we did when we got here was learn how to plow and learn how to plant. (We put in) 5,000 plants and 1,500 poles and strung miles and miles of wire,” recalls Monroe.
Their five-acre field of grapes are used in the Bliss and Tidal Bay labels at Avondale Sky Winery.
“We are peripherally connected to the wine industry,” she said.
Monroe organizes the annual Avondale Art Fair and Avondale Garlic Festival, both of which are held at the winery, as a way of giving back to the community that welcomed her and her partner with open arms.
“Those were things we thought we could do to help this area a bit, help the artists, help the industry, help with the awareness.”
With Nova Scotia wineries winning awards and being spotlighted across the country, and in some cases, internationally, Monroe said the time is now to market the area to like-minded investors.
“I couldn't have told you where Nova Scotia was 12-15 years ago and now I'm so thankful that we found it,” said Monroe, who moved from southeastern Minnesota.
The homepage encourages the visitor to come to Canada and build their dream winery.
“Our land is plentiful, our climate is ideal, the government cost-shares start-up expenses, the exchange rate is favourable to investment, the people of this province are delightful, and our wine industry has reached a point of quality to demand the respect of the international market. What are you waiting for?” the website reads.
The website she's set up — napaofthenorth.ca — acts as a guide for people looking to relocate to Nova Scotia. It features some of the top wineries in Nova Scotia, information on available real estate and details on immigration.
Monroe said she's hopeful the website will serve as a one-stop-shop and entice visitors to the region — whether it's to explore the possibility of opening up a winery or simply taking in what Nova Scotia has to offer.
“It's geared perhaps a bit more towards trying to find a few of the deep pockets out in Napa Valley, either for satellite wineries, to expand, to set up their kids, to use as their retirement winery. I don't care what their excuses are. We just want to give them a chance to come up here and help us get over that (economic) hump,” she said.
Monroe said she doesn't regret moving to Nova Scotia and says there is a real sense of community here compared to the United States.
“I'm not trying to change not one bit about this area but I am trying to push the economic development of this area,” said Monroe.
She said the people who may be interested in relocating will be like-minded.
“You'll never see the Trumpeters coming up here. It'll be the people who are far more Canadian, like we were.”
To learn more about the grape growing industry and how to take part in it, visit: www.napaofthenorth.ca.