Biodynamic in BC
Led by Gabe Cipes, son of Summerhill Pyramid Winery owner Stephen Cipes, has just been certified biodynamic – the first winery to be awarded such a designation in British Columbia. This program was three years in the making. The winery achieved the designation through diverse companion crops and onsite creation of biodynamic composts and preparations. This involves foliar sprays and composting farm and landscaping material, food scraps from the onsite catering and bistro kitchen, and animal manures, with specially-prepared biodynamic preparations to increase microbial life in the soil and aid the immune systems of the vines.
Biodynamic certification is a milestone not only for Summerhill, but also for the valley. A sustainable force for the Okanagan, winery founder Stephen Cipes initially bought the vineyard to bring his young family back to the land, but discovered that the chemical exposure to the vines was the antithesis of his plan and began to explore chemical-free alternatives. Composted organic matter is a key component on the farm at Summerhill. Since then, the winery has encouraged organic practices throughout the Okanagan. Because the Cipes family believes that since the valley is the northernmost semi-arid desert viticulture region in the world, the natural conditions limit pests and the need for chemical intervention. Through their leadership on organic and sustainable growing practices, Summerhill Pyramid Winery has helped their many growers go organic by paying a premium for their fruit and supporting their transformation. Summerhill has helped support or convert over 200 hundred acres of vineyard land in the Okanagan.
Summerhill’s organic legacy has extended beyond the family, beyond their growers, and now beyond the wine industry, as Summerhill contributes to the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, as part of a case study conducted in March 2012. The study focused on 12 Canadian companies and their efforts on climate change, featuring large influencers such as Coca-Cola Canada, BC Hydro and the Royal
Bank of Canada. The winery was also recently featured in a video by energy company Fortis BC, discussing the winery’s use of renewable natural gas. In the recent UK-based Drinks Business Green Awards, Summerhill was nominated as a finalist as the green company of the year.
Founder Stephen Cipes is continuing his vision, that Summerhill’s wine “allows nature to speak for herself.”