Organic & Biodynamic

Biodiversity plays a key role in organic farming.  Since we don’t use any synthetics in our vineyards, we must encourage nature to fill ecological niches and maintain balance.  By allowing flowering plants to grow between the rows, we provide a home for beneficial insects such as ladybugs and praying mantises.  The natural flora also help to improve our soil life and water retention, important elements to growing quality grapes!

Our home vineyard is 17 hectares and the only Demeter certified biodynamic vineyard in British Columbia.  Natural springs emerge on the property, and join with creeks to create a beautiful wetland nature sanctuary that supports a variety of species.

At the core of biodynamic farming is living in harmony with nature, harvesting soulful, beautiful food and returning nutrients back to the earth.

Organic winemaking practices have been an integral part of Summerhill since the Kelowna vineyard was purchased by the Cipes family in 1986. Producing wine organically has a very meaningful benefit to the environment, and some scientists suggest that eating organic foods greatly benefits our health as well.

Aside from these benefits, we believe that organic practices allow for the grapes in our vineyards to honestly express their surroundings, providing deep, terroir-driven qualities that are a true articulation of Okanagan terroir.

Summerhill is committed to producing 100% organic wine. Our Kelowna vineyard entered the certification program in 1988, and has received Demeter Biodynamic certification in 2012. In addition, our winemaking is also certified organic, allowing us to display the Canadian certified organic logo on our bottles, ensuring you can expect a high level of quality and purity.

ConventionalList of inputs that may be used in Summerhill organic winemaking:Summerhill Biodynamic Wine
Potential Wine Additions (ingredients)Grapes, yeast, yeast nutrient (e.g. diamonium phosphate, thiamin [vit B1]), milk and milk derivatives, malolactic bacteria, tannins, sugar, corn syrup, stabilizing agents (e.g. CMC, gum arabic), enzymes, tartaric acid, malic acid, citric acid, calcium carbonate, fining agents (e.g. egg whites, gelatin, isinglass fish bladders), sulphur dioxide in quantities under 350 parts per million, various other adjuncts and additives. For an example list of what is available to winemakers please see: www.aebusa.comOrganic grapes (definitely), natural yeast, natural yeast nutrient (yeast hulls), malolactic bacteria, fining agent (e.g. bentonite), highly rectified organic grape sugar (for sparkling wine process), sulphur dioxide where needed in quantities under 100 parts per millionDemeter certified biodynamic grapes, sulphur dioxide where needed in quantities under 100 parts per million
Facility and Equipment Sanitizerscaustic soda, quats, phosphoric acidozone, steam, scrub brushes, citric sulphiteSame as organic
Certification StandardsAdhere to CFIA standards, all other accreditation and inspections voluntaryThird party inspection to Canada's national organic standard, ISO 65 accreditation, trace backs on all ingredients and all finished wines, adherence to CFIA standardsSame as organic + inspection by Demeter BC to biodynamic standard.
Summerhill Organic and BiodynamicConventional
Fertilitycompost, compost teas, green manure, cover crop, fish-fertilizer, mineral dust, biodynamic preparationssynthetic fertilizers, non-organic compost (may contain heavy metals and pharmaceutical residue)
Weed ManagementMowing, weeding, mulching, companion croppingHerbicides, Pre-Emergent Herbicides
Powdery Mildewbiodynamic preparations, herbal and compost teas, bacterial preparations that occupy the ecological niche of the mildew, certified organic sprays (sulphur, lime sulphur, mineral oil, vegetable oil, potassium, baking soda)systemic fungicides
Botrytisearly leaf removal, preventionsystemic fungicides
Leaf Hoppersbiodiversity from wild areas surrounding vineyard, flowering ground cover to give habitat fornatural predators, mineral oilinsecticides
Cutwormsleave extra buds, graze chickens under vines, flashlight and a pair of gloves to pick them off one by one at night if things get bad in an areainsecticides
Rodentstraps, natural predatorspoisonous bait


Wildcrafting is the practice of harvesting plants from their natural, or “wild” habitat, for food or medicinal purposes. It applies to uncultivated plants wherever they may be found, and is not necessarily limited to wilderness areas.  Examples of wildcrafting include picking wild berries, rosehips, or nettle, or harvesting maple syrup.


Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in natural ecologies. Permaculture is sustainable land use design. This is based on ecological and biological principles, often using patterns that occur in nature to maximise effect and minimise work. Within a Permaculture system, work is minimised, “wastes” become resources, productivity and yields increase, and environments are restored.

Permaculture aims to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs, harmoniously integrating the land with its inhabitants. The ecological processes of plants, animals, their nutrient cycles, climatic factors and weather cycles are all part of the picture. Inhabitants’ needs are provided for using proven and ever improving innovative technologies for food, energy, shelter and infrastructure. Elements in a system are viewed in relationship to other elements, where the outputs of one element become the inputs of another. Permaculture principles can be applied to any environment, at any scale, from a farm, to an individual home, to a dense urban settlement.

Here is an example of Permaculture design principles in practice: building a chicken coop on the north side, and a greenhouse on the south side of the same structure. These two functions work in relationship to each other. The heat produced by the chickens helps heat the green house, the pecking of the chickens prevents plant pests, and their manure can fertilize the plants.

Biodynamic Agriculture

Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that treats farms as unified and individual organisms, emphasizing balancing the holistic development and interrelationship of soil, plants, and animals as a self-nourishing system without external inputs insofar as this is possible given the loss of nutrients due to the export of food. By creating a closed system, nothing is extra or wasted.

Biodynamic Preparations

Biodynamic preparations aid in fertilization and prevent plant diseases. The prepared substances are numbered 500 through 508. The first two are used for preparing fields, and the latter seven are used for making compost. Biodynamic preparations have influence on soil structure and micro-organisms, enhancing soil fertility and increasing biodiversity.

Field preparations:

  • 500: (horn-manure) a humus mixture prepared by filling the horn of a cow with cow manure and burying it in the ground (40–60 cm below the surface) in the autumn. It is left to decompose during the winter and recovered for use the following spring.
  • 501: Crushed powdered quartz is stuffed into a cow horn, buried into the ground in spring and taken out in autumn. A mixture of the powder with water is sprayed under very low pressure over the crop during the wet season, to prevent fungal diseases and increase photosynthesis.

Compost preparations, used for preparing compost, employ herbs which are frequently used in medicinal remedies:

  • 502: Yarrow blossoms
  • 503: Chamomile blossoms
  • 504: Stinging nettle
  • 505: Oak bark
  • 506: Dandelion flowers
  • 507: Valerian flowers
  • 508: Horsetail

All compost preparations are added to heaps in homeopathic quantities. Each compost preparation is designed to guide a particular decomposition process in the composting mass.

Demeter International

Demeter International is the largest certification organization for biodynamic agriculture, and is one of three predominant organic certifiers. Demeter Biodynamic Certification is used in over 50 countries to verify that biodynamic products meet international standards in production and processing. The Demeter certification program was established in 1928, and as such was the first ecological label for organically produced foods.

Demeter’s “biodynamic” certification requires biodiversity and ecosystem preservation, soil husbandry, livestock integration (this requirement is exempt In biodynamic vineyards), prohibition of genetically engineered organisms and viewing the farm as a living “holistic organism”. The certification verifies the fulfillment of the standards on behalf of the farmers, which in turn guaranties high quality food products to the consumers.


Compost is composed of organic materials derived from plant and animal matter that has been decomposed largely through aerobic decomposition. The process of composting is simple and practiced by individuals in their homes, farmers on their land, and industrially by cities and factories.

Compost/Herbal Teas

Compost teas/Herbal teas are liquid solutions or suspensions made by steeping compost and/or certain herbs in water. They are used as both fertilizers and to prevent plant diseases. The liquid is applied as a soil-drench (root dip) for seedlings, or as a surface spray.

Okanagan Valley Terroir

Over the last decades, producers in the Okanagan Valley have undertaken great efforts to establish this unique and breathtakingly beautiful valley as North America’s newest premium wine‐growing region. The diversity of vines that thrive in varied microclimates here provides winemakers with a multitude of options to express their creative talents and technical expertise. The region has attracted winemakers from around the world and is now home to vintners from France, Australia, California, New Zealand and South Africa.

The Okanagan Valley is a 124 mile‐long trough that extends north from the 49th parallel into the central southern interior of British Columbia. The valley is lined with multiple bedrocks, their floors and lower slopes overlaid with the rich silt, sand and gravel over 10,000‐year old glacial deposits.

The northern end of the Sonoran Desert eco-zone, which extends all the way south to Mexico, just barely reaches across the United States‐Canada border to British Columbia, up to the south Okanagan towns of Osoyoos and Oliver. Referred to as Canada’s only pocket desert, the arid climate of the southern British Columbia interior shapes the geographical landscape for viticulture.


The climate of the Okanagan Valley is governed by the region’s location in the lee of the Coast Mountain Range. These mountains, with peaks of over 8,000 feet, are effective weather blocks. While the weather west of the Coast Range in Vancouver is wet, a rain shadow effect is produced eastward in the Okanagan Valley. Rainfall is lowered to an annual average 16 inches in the north, near Kelowna, and eight inches in the south, around Osoyoos. Summer months are dry and warm with rainfall usually in the form of brief showers. June is the wettest month. Hot periods occur when dry continental air invades the area from the desert region to the southeast, in the United States. Temperatures can often reach 95° Fahrenheit or more. The average temperature during the warmest month in the south Okanagan is 71.6°F. By way of comparison, the average temperature during the warmest month in Bordeaux, France is 67.3° Fahrenheit, and annual precipitation is 31 inches. In the Napa Valley, California, the average temperature in the warmest month is 66.4° Fahrenheit, and the annual rainfall is 25.6 inches.


The Okanagan Valley falls in the Northern Hemisphere’s wine‐growing belt and shares the same latitude as Northern German and French vineyards. While referred to as a cool‐climate wine region, unique microclimates exist throughout the valley. The northern tip of the Okanagan Valley is at 50°N, and the southern tip is at 49°.

A chain of pristine blue lakes, fed by several rivers, runs the length of the Valley, moderating both the intense summer heat and chilly winter air. Viticulturists throughout the Okanagan depend on the moisture moderated climate. Intense sunlight and minimal rainfall allow the grapes to ripen to their full maturity, while cool nights help them to retain high acidity.



We have a twenty year experiment proving the effect of sacred geometry on liquids with a twenty year track record of international gold medals. The goal from the beginning was and is to make the finest wine in the world, especially sparkling wines.

The French tradition of putting sparkling wines in a dark cool place for thirty days for the cuvee and dosage to ‘marry’ was the original inspiration to achieve this goal. The wines are made using only minimal intervention winemaking, and the clarification in this True Pyramid is the final step in production. These are alive wines full of nature’s grandness, made in the most unique winery in the world.


& Chicken Coops

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.

Summerhill uses no animal byproducts in its winemaking, and is therefore vegan friendly. Some animal byproducts commonly used in winemaking include fish bladders, gelatin, egg whites, milk, and milk byproducts. Summerhill uses none of these ingredients in our wine.

We were once asked whether our Biodynamic practices are vegan friendly. Some biodynamic preparations are made with animal parts, and our farm composts are made with animal manures. These animal parts are not in the wine or in any way touching the grapes. They are used as a medium to create beneficial soil bacteria that aid processes in the grapevine’s immune system. We must leave it to each individual vegan to decide whether the biodynamic preparations are a deal breaker or not.

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Summerhill Pyramid Winery