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A Vision of Gratitude & Abundance for People & Planet
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The Vision

“Be a conduit and allow your vision, your dream to come through – and fortify it every day."

- Stephen Cipes, founder of Summerhill Pyramid Winery

The team at Summerhill Pyramid Winery seeks to share universal truth, love, and gratitude. The following set of seven guiding principles is a statement of our intentions. These seven principles inform the way we make wine, our business practices, and the way we interact with the world. We are all connected and it is our sincerest hope that we can enhance your life through extraordinary organic pyramid cellared wines, organic local cuisine, and by all of our interactions together.

 

1
Gratitude

A joyful life begins with gratitude. Each of us, our source of life, is connected to one another, our precious planet, and to the entire universe.

Every day when we arrive to work at Summerhill Vineyard and see the pristine valley before us it is natural to feel grateful for the beauty around us, and for the Okanagan Lake that provides our drinking water and irrigation. But it is not always so easy. Gratitude is a practice, and though we never claim to be perfect, we are willing.

We practice gratitude towards ourselves, our co-workers, and our clients and guests. We are renewed in the integrity of our words and actions by remembering to have gratitude for each other at all times. We are thankful to be working with the earth to bring forth goods of nature, and are eternally grateful for the gift of life.

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Gratitude
2
People

Each of us is a unique, noble, creative individual inherently worthy of love. We all spring from the same source of life, and in our essence we are all one. We value and honour each individual.

RELATIONSHIPS

We strive to nurture an environment of caring and genuine interaction with each other, with our clients, customers, and guests, and with everyone with whom we do business. We welcome people from around the world with open arms, and our wines are shipped around the world. It is important to us to aid a culture of authenticity and transparency for the betterment of our community, and to do our small part in uplifting all of humanity.

TEAM

We provide a caring and nurturing environment for our team that is relaxed, fun, and healthy. We work to provide opportunities for advancement from within for real career development. We really care for our team members. A company is the people. We cherish our employees like our own family, because they are. When we support one another, we grow stronger together.

COMMUNITY

When Stephen Cipes came to the Okanagan Valley in 1986 some of the first relationships he established were with the Hall/Derickson family of the Okanagan first nations. These relationships continue to this day, marked by a collaborative earth-building on the vineyard. Modelled after the pit houses that were the traditional indigenous winter homes of the Okanagan, the “Makwala Hall Memorial Kekuli” was built by a team including Ron Hall, Weston Hall, and Makwala Hall (1992-2010), Stephen’s son Gabe, and members of the various local First Nations including West Bank, Penticton, Osoyoos, and Shuswap. The beautiful, semi-underground earth structure now exists on the land as a community gathering place and as a glimpse into another perspective of living in harmony with the earth as a part of nature.

The Makwala Hall Memorial Kekuli and the Summerhill Pyramid are sacred gathering places to celebrate the phases of the moon and the passage of the seasons. Gatherings are held every new and full moon, and every solstice and equinox. All are welcome.

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People
3
Planet

Planet Earth is our home. We are a part of nature, and strive to live in harmony with nature. Environmental stewardship is our founding principle. We honour all life.

When Stephen Cipes purchased Summerhill Vineyard in 1986, he had a vision to preserve the pristine conditions of his family’s new home in spite of the rapid agricultural and civic development. To protect the Okanagan’s lake and inhabitants, Cipes set out to prove that organic wines are better in every way – in the way they taste and make you feel as well as in their impact on community and environment. The result is that Summerhill has been a hub for organic viticulture in Canada. Winemakers have apprenticed here, former growers have opened their own organic wineries, and other wineries have taken note and begun their own conversions. This has helped foster a substantial rise in the amount of organic viticulture happening throughout the valley and Canada.

Summerhill continues to foster a sustainable future. Here is an overview of our commitments, initiatives and accomplishments:

  • In 1988 we began the ‘official’ transition to organic status for Summerhill Vineyard with our certifier. At that time the mandatory transitional period was seven years! There were very few organic vineyards in the Okanagan at that time, and organic vineyard management systems were not well understood.
  • In 2007 when the Canadian national standard for organic winemaking was established, we released among the first wines in Canada to bear the Canada Organic logo. Prior to that our wines were ‘Made with Organic Grapes’, but since then our entire process of cleaning tanks and equipment and making wines has been transparently monitored to be environmentally responsible and free of synthetics.
  • In 2009 we mandated that all of our independent grape suppliers officially transition to organic certification for their farms. We now purchase the crop from about 200 acres of vineyard, all grown by independent family farmers who have committed to growing organically for us.
  • In 2012, Summerhill Vineyard became the first vineyard in BC to gain Demeter Biodynamic status. Biodynamic agriculture is the world’s first “organic” certification, and still the most holistic, treating the whole farm as an ecosystem, and engendering life and diversity in the soil, in the ground cover, and in nature preserves on the farm.
  • At Summerhill Vineyard, many plants have been trialed between and underneath the vines to convert a mono-crop paradigm into a synergetic Permaculture system, increasing biodiversity, health, and yields. These plants include many flowering species to increase the population of beneficial insects and various culinary herbs for use in Summerhill’s on-site kitchen.
  • In 2006 we planted a half-acre Chef’s Garden just below the dining patio. Providing the kitchen with heirloom vegetables, herbs and berries, this garden is managed with hand-tools, no-till farming methods and biodynamic preparations to organically enhance the biological activity within the soil. An additional half-acre Forest Garden of perennial food and medicine producing trees and plants was added in the years following to serve as a harvest source as well as an educational resource.
  • Working in partnership with renowned Canadian artist and naturalist Robert Bateman’s foundation, we offer a series of wine labels featuring Bateman’s artwork. With each bottle sold money is donated to the foundation, which works with the park service and schools to bring North American youth into nature to form meaningful relationships and foster the next generation of conservationists.
  • Twenty acres of the Summerhill property are under restrictive covenant with The Land Conservancy of BC to protect wildlife habitat for future generations, adding to the biodiversity of the farm, and providing a source for wild-crafting (harvesting wild plants for use in our onsite restaurant).
  • We participate in third party environmental assessments to monitor and improve our impact, including Green Tourism Canada, where we score at a “gold” standard
  • Our purchasing is committed to sustainable sources, including wine labels printed on 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper, closures from the renewable resource of cork, and office paper and menus printed on tree free paper made from the agricultural waste streams of sugar cane and wheat. Our restaurant purchases all organic, local, and “Oceanwise” ingredients.
  • We have a strong commitment to reduce, reuse, and recycle. We monitor waste streams and organize all recyclables onsite.
  • We compost all non-wine production outputs (grape solids, stems, seeds, skins, and yeast sediments), landscaping outputs and kitchen compost. If you dine in our restaurant and don’t finish your plate, it will be scraped into a compost bucket rather than into the garbage.
  • We are proud to showcase internationally revered, award-winning wines that are produced organically, proving that the world’s best wine is made without using “conventional” farming and winemaking methods. We have been at the forefront of the organic movement, receiving major awards for our wines including the UK’s International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) trophy for ‘Best Sparkling Wine’ (Cipes Gabriel NV) in 2010, and the IWSC trophy for ‘Canadian Wine Producer of the Year’ in 2009.
  • The Cipes family offers advice and education freely and willingly to our local wine industry, including support for competing wineries to transition to organic, inspecting smaller operations for the peer reviewed “Certified Naturally Grown” designation, and hosting workshops on biodynamics.
  • Stephen Cipes and a team of volunteers under the banner of Organic Okanagan have led an initiative called the “2020 Vision” to convert the entire pristine Okanagan Valley to be organic, including all agriculture and all civic landscaping (www.organicokanagan.com).

 

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Planet
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Passion

When we allow our deepest passions to be guided by our conscience, the care for the task and goals at hand results in a higher level of quality and extraordinary outcomes. Our passion is to bring forth the finest wines in the world with pure nature as our partner.

Winemaking is essentially a natural process. Left alone, ambient yeast will eat the sugar in grapes and turn the juice into wine. Our job is to care for the earth and the vines, harvest the fruit at the best moment to achieve a balance of flavor, freshness, and alcohol, and create the ideal process and environment to allow the wine to develop into its most beautiful expression.

All of our wines are suitable for vegans. When readying the precious liquid for bottling, we do not fine the red wine at all, and only fine the white wine with bentonite, rather than egg whites or other animal derived fining agents. Fining can strip tannins and soften acids, making ‘edgy’ wines smoother and ready to drink younger, but fining can also strip some of the soul of the wine. We only want to deliver the most truthful and authentic product of nature. The bentonite used in the white wines is a gentle fining to remove the cloudiness from the finished wine. We may from time to time release an unfined white wine that is a little cloudy, too, and we like it like that.

“It is interesting to note that in the ancient Hebrew tradition wine is the only substance we put to our lips that is honoured with a separate prayer from all other nutrients we ingest. This signals wine as perhaps the forbidden fruit in Eden that deserves to be blessed with a prayer for its divine purpose: that of unification with the divine!”

- Stephen Cipes, founder of Summerhill Pyramid Winery

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Passion
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Abundance

When we follow our passion and pro-actively nourish the well-being of our health, spirit, relationships, and planet, abundance goes hand-in-hand. Abundance is our natural inheritance.

In today’s (post) modern world, business has a powerful effect on the structure and content of our daily lives. As entrepreneurs in a multifaceted industry that involves farming, manufacturing, marketing, and hospitality, we see ourselves as having a responsibility to contribute to culture in a way that aligns with the eternal values that nurture health and happiness in humanity. This responsibility is our primary motivator, not profit alone.

A Benefit corporation is a business that benefits society, not just its shareholders. As a certified B Corps™ (a for-profit company certified by the nonprofit B Lab) we meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. In our company documentation we articulate our focus on the “triple bottom line” so that it is clearly understood that we prioritize people and planet alongside profit.

Our corporate philanthropic vision is centered on environmental consciousness and on our local community.

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Abundance
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Pioneership

We are pioneers within our industry and community, both locally and globally. We push the boundaries of what has and can be done in business and in life by acting according to our values and creating the world in which we wish to live.

“Be whole unto yourself at all times, and envision the world in which you want to live.”

- Stephen Cipes, founder of Summerhill Pyramid

The Cipes family bought Summerhill Vineyard in 1986, and moved to Kelowna from New York the following year. At that time Summerhill, along with much of the valley’s vineyards, was planted with table grapes and hybrid wine grapes. The Cipes’ new vineyard also had one experimental block of Riesling planted in the 1970s.

Almost as soon as the Cipes family arrived, the vineyard was transitioned to organic maintenance and replanted with European vinifera winemaking grapes imported from France and Germany.

Summerhill’s first experimental crush of wine was in 1990. This was the same year as the formation of BC VQA, in which the Cipes family took an active role developing. Preliminary meetings to form VQA were hosted by the Cipes family at Summerhill Vineyard.

Stephen’s New York business sense drove the tiny Okanagan wine industry forward in those early years by focusing on making traditional method sparkling wine, producing the most expensive wines the valley had seen to that point, creating the region’s first destination tourist attraction winery, and by bringing international attention with write-ups and glowing wine reviews in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

His vision was that the pristine Okanagan valley, the northernmost desert viticulture region in the world, had the potential to make the finest wines in the world and bring pride to all Canadians. Summerhill has accomplished a long list of “firsts” on the way to making this vision a reality.

  • We are Okanagan Valley pioneers in making organic wine, ultra-premium quality wine, and in establishing the model of a tourism destination winery in this beautiful place. We have worked with our provincial government to change rules so as to allow wineries to cater to wine tourists, establishing over twenty new policies for the entire province including the allowance of restaurants at BC wineries.
  • Our team members have sat on boards and committees to help draft the national organic standards for wine in Canada, and we have worked with the BC chapter of Demeter to certify the first biodynamic vineyard and wine in our province.
  • We have integrated Permaculture design principles into our farm and business.
  • The Summerhill Pyramid is the first wine cellar in the world to knowingly integrate sacred geometry for the benefit of the wine.

We are continually driven by our conscience and passion and do not plan to stop pioneering anytime soon!

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Pioneership
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Love

Love underlies and unifies all of the foregoing elements of our vision. It is a way of relating to the world. Love is a commitment to caring for our wines, for our people, and for the planet. Love is in everything that we touch and it is felt.

Love is a positive force for good. It is limitless and there can never be enough. When we make a conscious effort to engage the world with love, we open ourselves to vulnerability, allowing an honest experience. We engage with our vineyards, our earth, our friends, and our family at this level of care. Love is the intangible that can be felt. It is the intangible that can be tasted. It is the secret ingredient.

“The first step is loving ourselves. Realizing holy love, purity and ascension is embracing our soul memory that we indeed are love and that the essence of the words “God” and “love” are synonymous.”

- Stephen Cipes, founder of Summerhill Pyramid Winery

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Love