Ezra 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 Stephen, Ezra 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. Home on the family farm, Cipes initiated a half acre permaculture garden, selling vegetables and herbs to Summerhill's onsite Sunset Bistro. After reconnecting with the winery and the land, Cipes knew he needed to assume a greater role at the winery.
At Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Ezra Cipes is responsible for day to day operations, marketing, and leadership. He has completed courses in vineyard management and in permaculture design.
When did you know you wanted to get into the wine industry?
My passion for wine and the wine industry has grown on the job. When my brothers and I first moved back, we were like: Why are we growing wine? Monocultures are bad; we should be growing food! But after three years of hand digging beds in the garden, I came to appreciate things like tractors, and focusing on one crop and doing it extremely well. Also I realised that our organic vineyard is not a monoculture, but that grapevines are the climax species in a healthy vineyard ecosystem. I became seriously committed to the family business once my daughter was born in 2007. Now I’m hooked.
Describe your perfect wine moment.
When you meet a wine that is truly good, you understand its quality with more than your senses. Although these components are important, for the full experience forget about the way it tastes or smells. Instead ask, how does it feel? Does it make your hair stand on end? Does it make your endorphins run? Does it fill your belly with warmth and put a smile on your face? These are the things I experience during a perfect wine moment.
Can you compare Summerhill to anywhere else in the world?
A lot of people, especially the first time they visit, are totally transported. Being on an organic farm with our large nature preserves, that view of the lake, the presence of the pyramid, the Peace Park, and the architecture of the main building all create quite an impression.
What is your favourite food-and-wine pairing?
Cipes Brut and Kusshi oysters is a BC classic.
What keeps you in the Okanagan?
Living in the Okanagan is like being hugged by the earth. My family is here, and that is extremely important.
The future for the Okanagan, Kelowna: what are your hopes?
We have always envisioned the Okanagan as an ‘organic only’ zone. This is the easiest place in the world to be organic, as there are few pest problems in our northern climate. I hope by our example and continued success, and by the growing consumer demand, we are moving the valley in that direction.
What is your favourite part about working at Summerhill?
At Summerhill 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.