Summerhill Pyramid Winery an Iconic Stop

Summerhill Winery is one of those iconic stops for anyone visiting Kelowna.  Well known for its pyramid-aged wines and giant sparkling wine sculpture.  Framed by Okanagan Lake it must be one of the most photographed places in the valley.

Stephen Cipes and family have long championed organic and biodynamic farming.  From their website:

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 helps to improve our soil life and water retention, important elements to growing quality grapes!

Our home vineyard is 17 hectares and is 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.”

Wines that I recently tasted include:

Riesling 2022
Straw coloured with medium intensity.  The nose shows aromas of green apple, apricot, peach, grapefruit, citrus, melon and wet stones.  Good balance with medium body.  Not sweet, but not overly dry.  Pleasing fruit flavours on the palate followed by. Medium-plus finish.
91 Points

Chardonnay 2021
Golden yellow with medium intensity.  Pear, lime, mandarin, a touch of apricot, melon, spice, almond, and toast on the nose.  Though some may feel the balance slightly soft, I found it very good with a rich, creamy texture.  The palate is dominated by rich ripe, luscious fruit followed by a medium-plus finish.  Perfect for fans of big chardonnays without any excessive oak.
90 Points

Pinot Noir 2021
Garnet red with medium-plus intensity.  Good varietal character on the nose with aromas of cherry, cranberry, rose petal, black tea, leather, and hints of cinnamon and black pepper.  Very good balance with velvety tannins.  The palate echoes the nose followed by a medium-plus dry finish.  This would be lovely served with Beef Bourguignon.
90 Points

Spadefoot Syrah 2017
Garnet red with deep intensity.  The nose is rich with boysenberry, blueberry, stewed prune, cherry, nutmeg, white pepper, salami, and sawdust.  Well balanced with ripe, smooth tannins.  The flavours reflect the nose followed by a medium-long finish.  It’s easy to see why this wine is a consistent medal winner.
93 Points.

And while there is no shortage of fans of its extensive lineup of organically produced wines, I’d argue that it is their sparkling wines that truly make them shine.  Six sparklers in total!


Cipes Brut. NV
This pyramid cellared wine is a blend of 70% Riesling, 20% Pinot Blanc and 10% Chardonnay.  Pale lemon-yellow colour with light intensity.  The nose shows aromas of biscuit, white peach, citrus, white flowers, and gentle lees.  Well-balanced, crisp and clean with good mouth-filling mousse.  Lemon cream, biscuit and stone fruit on the palate followed by a medium-long finish.
91 points

Cipes Brut Rosé. NV
Made in the traditional method, this is a blend of 85% organic Pinot Noir and 15% organic Chardonnay. The wine rested ‘sur lie’ for sixteen months, which gives it depth and complexity.  Copper/salmon colour with medium-minus intensity.  The nose is delicate with aromas of strawberry, melon, straw, hibiscus, grapefruit zest, and savoury notes.  Good balance with a creamy mousse.  The palate shines with strawberry, cherry, melon, pineapple, and apple flavours.  Flavours linger on the medium-long finish.
90 Points

Cipes Blanc de Blanc 2012
This beauty helped us ring in 2024.  Golden yellow with medium-minus intensity.  The nose is layered with aromas of honey, apple, straw, citrus, mango, and a hint of biscuit.  Very good balance and lots of mousse.  Citrus, lemon cream, apple, pineapple, peach, and melon on the palate.  A medium-long finish with flavours lingering.  Aged bubbly takes on wonderful complex flavours.  Well worth hanging on to.  Cheers!
92 Points

Cipes Traditional Cuvée 2004
Wow!  Twenty years old and undoubtedly one of the finest sparkling wines you will ever taste, it rivals many wines from Champagne though at a much more attractive price.  This wine wowed us when we tried it and even though wines at this price are clearly not in our everyday budget, we ordered a few more because life is short and this wine delivers a lot of pleasure.

Made with 100% organic estate-grown fruit – 87% Chardonnay and 13% Pinot Noir.   The bottles aged ‘sur lie’ for 18 years before disgorgement.  I am a big fan of aged sparkling wines and all the amazing character that develops over time.  This is an amazing wine to sip and savour.  Golden amber with medium-plus intensity.  Complex and layered with aromas of toast, brioche, fruity, lemon, ripe apple, honey, pumpkin, earth and nuts on the nose.  Well balanced with mouth-filling mousse.  The palate reflects the nose along with candied fruit, especially orange peel, melon, lemon, tangerine, and hay along with caramel notes.  A medium-long finish.  Truly outstanding.
96 Points

Image courtesy of the winery.

In addition, they offer their pinnacle star, Cipes Ariel 2000.  A 24-year-old sparkler at only $100.  This wine is a great bargain and the perfect special occasion gift.  And by the way, my birthday is coming up.  Just in case you want to . . . you know.

And in closing, after tasting some barrel samples this past fall, I can assure you that several of the best wines they have ever produced will soon be bottled.

(All photos, except as noted – Sam Hauck)

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