The GOODS from Summerhill Pyramid Winery
Kelowna, BC | Ezra Cipes, CEO of Kelowna’s progressive Summerhill Pyramid Winery, has been named one of Western Living’s 40 Foodies Under 40 in their most recent issue (March 2013), on shelves now. The magazine states that “…under Ezra’s tenure it’s been different for all the right reasons-like putting out a beautifully balanced Riesling that dared check in at 8.5 percent, or launching an $85 ultra-premium sparkling wine with 14 years of age. The future looks magical inside the pyramid.”
Ezra Cipes is proud to carry on the family legacy at Summerhill Pyramid Winery. Since the Cipes family moved from New York to Kelowna when Cipes was five, he has grown up with the wine industry around him, and learned it by osmosis.
Like his father, Cipes has a multitude of passions and talents. After attending public school in Kelowna, Cipes embarked on a musical path, attending music college at Vancouver Community College. He worked as a touring and session musician and became a published songwriter. But, despite his love for music, Cipes felt the call back to the vineyard. Back home on the family farm, Cipes initiated a half-acre permaculture garden, that continues to provide vegetables and herbs to Summerhill’s on-site organic Sunset Bistro. After reconnecting with the winery and the land, Cipes knew he needed to assume a greater role at the winery.
Ezra joined the senior management team as COO in 2008, taking over daily management of the winery from his father, Stephen Cipes, working closely with winemaker Eric von Krosigk. That year, he began a complete overhaul, from accounting to marketing.
Under his tenure, Summerhill has scored an impressive series of accolades and accomplishments. In 2009, the winery won ‘Canadian Wine Producer of the Year’ by the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) in London, England, which is among the largest and most prestigious wine competitions in the world. In 2010, the IWSC again recognized Summerhill, this time awarding the Denbies Trophy for the world’s best sparkling wine to Cipes Gabriel. It was the first time this award was given to a Canadian wine. In 2011, Summerhill’s 20th vintage, the 2010 Riesling won ‘White Wine of the Year’ at the BC Wine Awards. The winery also offered for the first time their premium organic wines in environmentally friendlier wine cask formats. Last year, Summerhill Vineyard attained biodynamic Demeter Certification, the first vineyard in BC to do so. In partnership with the Canadian government, the winery also began trials with an environmentally-sensitive nitrogen generator, with an eye to decrease sulfur use in the winery and the wines.
When recently asked what was his favourite part about working at Summerhill, Ezra shared, “We have so much to celebrate. The quality of wine, food, and service that we are known for, and the good conscience we share knowing the care that goes into our products, truly brings us together as a family. I spend a lot of my life at work, and the love and friendship I share with the team at Summerhill helps me feel whole and like my life is well lived.”
Ezra Cipes: CEO
Eric von Krosigk: winemaker/viticulturist
Jesse Croy: winery chef
Gabe Cipes: biodynamics/permaculture
Stephen Cipes: founder/proprietor
ABOUT SUMMERHILL PYRAMID WINERY
Summerhill Pyramid Winery is a pioneering Okanagan Valley winery established in 1991. Owned and operated by the Cipes family, the winery has been a leader in organics, converting their own vineyard holdings to organic status shortly after the property was acquired in 1986, and helping to convert over 200 acres of Okanagan vineyards to certified organic status since then. The home vineyard in Kelowna is, as of 2012, BC’s first Demeter certified biodyamic vineyard. Summerhill considers their plots to be ‘vineyard ecosystems’ rather than viewing them as industrial farms. The philosophy of winemaking is that organic and biodynamic grapes, grown in harmony with the ecosystem, is the starting point for authentic, expressive, terroir driven wines. The portfolio of Summerhill wines has earned Summerhill the title of ‘Canadian Wine Producer of the Year’ from the IWSC in London, England (2009).
Summerhill has also been at the forefront of sparkling wine production in the Okanagan. The winery was founded with the production of Cipes Brut, a traditional method cuvee based on Riesling and Chardonnay, and has gone on to garner international acclaim for sparkling wines, including a gold medal from France (Chardonnay du Monde, 2000) and a trophy from England (IWSC, 2010), both for the estate grown Cipes Gabriel Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine.
The winery is also home to the Sunset Organic Bistro, featuring seasonal Okanagan wine paired cuisine in a rustic, relaxed atmosphere. Executive Chef Jesse Croy draws from the bounty of regional organic farmers, including an onsite half-acre biodynamic vegetable patch.