Serving as the CEO of ‘Canada’s most visited winery’, Ezra Cipes is part of the second generation at Summerhill, a pioneering winery producing 100% organic wine. What makes Summerhill so unique? A pyramid wine cellar, second only to the Great Pyramids of Egypt for alignment and precision, in which the family allows their organic and biodynamic wines to rest before release.
“My parents moved our young family here from the suburbs of New York in 1986 for a total change of life,” explains Cipes, one of four brothers. “I am so grateful they did. It was just a little farming community, no modern wine industry at all. They both helped build the modern wine industry in BC and were founding members of the BC Vintners Quality Alliance and of the BC Wine Institute.”
On arriving in 1986, Ezra’s father, Stephen, believed he’d found unique conditions to produce “intensely flavoured small grapes,” the perfect base for sparkling wine. He brought grape clones from France and “personally planted them on his hands and knees.” After entering the organic certification program in 1988, Cipes Sr. produced his first vintage in 1991 and the winery received Demeter Biodynamic certification in 2012.
“We’re a mid-sized winery with a large team, mostly because of the extensive hospitality we offer,” says Ezra. “We have a beautiful restaurant and banquet room, both overlooking the vineyard, lake, and mountains.”
“For us, the next level of success will be seeing our wines on restaurant lists in major centers around the world. Certain wines we make are absolutely relevant to the global wine market because of their outstanding quality and a taste that can come from nowhere but the Okanagan.”