Column: A New Vision Lights the Path for Summerhill’s New CEO - Part 1

2019 has been a pivotal year for Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna. After three decades under Summerhill’s founder, Stephen Cipes, his son, Ezra Cipes has taken the helm as CEO.

It was also the year that By Jove, a Kelowna communications company  completed interviewing Summerhill’s management and stakeholders about their common values. The result: a unique and thoughtful vision that will guide Summerhill’s corporate mission in the years to come.

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Ezra’s father, Stephen Cipes had already laid the foundation for a vision by pioneering sustainability and organic agriculture and winemaking. As a result, Summerhill became one of Okanagan’s most successful wineries.

To introduce the new vision, a triangular graphic was created with all seven of the vision principles as smaller triangles inside it.

Ezra summed up their new vision: “Don’t wait for society to change and then jump on the trend to sell a few bottles of wine. You live change and you live your best life and live according to your values and live a meaningful life. Values have a certain power. People are attracted to things that are aligned with truth and wisdom and the eternal values that nurture community and civilization.”

Triangles are appropriate for Summerhill as they age all of their wines in a pyramid (a three-dimensional triangle). “I love symbolism. I think it is a great way to share stories about values and the hidden order and truth about nature. The triangle, an ancient sacred symbol, is about earth and heaven,” explained Cipes.

The gratitude, people, planet, and love triangles face upwards. “It's about bringing earth up to heaven.” Passion, abundance, and pioneership face downwards. “It’s about bringing heaven down to earth.”

“It was a rich meaningful image to me as soon as I saw it. It became a foundation as to how we articulated our vision. It's a living document; its not carved in stone,” Cipes admitted.

He is most proud of the principle of gratitude. “Gratitude is a practice and we are renewed in the integrity of our work and action by remembering to have gratitude for each other at all times. We all have a profound effect on the people who come to visit us.”

Summerhill’s organic and biodynamic wines, tasting room, restaurant, gardens, and on-site pyramid make it the Canada’s most visited winery. “Already we receive all sorts of complements on the way they feel when they come to visit us. They feel comfortable and a sense of love when they come to Summerhill.” That’s a practice we don’t bat a thousand but we have them and we want to build upon and get better as a company.”

For the wine enthusiast, the proof of how the vision has affected winemaking is found by popping the cork on a bottle of 2017 Summerhill Pyramid Winery Vineyard Riesling ($28). This white has a gorgeous bouquet of ripe apple, a hint of citrus, and a whiff of diesel, much like many German Rieslings.

 On the palate there’s rich orchard fruit and lime, with an elegant balance of fruit, minerals, and crisp acidity. The persistent off-dry finish leaves you thirsting for more. Delicious on its own, ideal with roast pork or Beijing duck. Available at summerhill.bc.ca.

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