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New certification for Summerhill winery places value on people and planet not just profits (plus wine reviews)

Kelowna’s Summerhill Pyramid Winery is the first winery in Canada to be accredited as a Certified B Corporation and is one of only 26 wineries worldwide to gain this certification.

This mark ultimately acknowledges that Summerhill focuses on people and planet, not just profit, says the winery in a news release.

Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. B Corp businesses make a positive global impact by working to reduce inequality, lower levels of poverty, create a healthier environment, build strong communities and offer high-quality jobs. Summerhill has been assessed in categories including governance, workers, customers, community, and the environment to achieve this certification.

B.C. wine
Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s leadership team (top, left to right): Gabe Cipes, Jeremy Luypen, Ezra Cipes, Gary Leslie, Rory Baldwin, Avneet Hothi, Lindsey Reagean. (Bottom, left to right): Nicole Martinez, Helen Sarris, Stephen Cipes, Andrea Thiessen, Ari Cipes, Li Zhou, Livi Waller, Mike Curren, Michael Alexander, Ryan Maarschalk, Ryan Andrews. (Photo credit: Kevin Trowbridge).

Acknowledging that Summerhill Pyramid Winery is a B Corporation shows customers that the team’s dedication to living their values in the way they do business is authentic. The Summerhill team considers the impact of its decisions on its workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment – to go above and beyond the production of wine to ensure its workers, lands and community benefit from their practices.

With B Corp, Summerhill joins a community of leaders driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good. The B Corp list includes well-known companies like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s. As the first Canadian winery to gain this certification, Summerhill is establishing its own presence among these global giants. Other B.C. companies having achieved this certification include Hootsuite, Nada, and Pyrrha Handcrafted Jewels.

“In today’s (post) modern world, business has a profoundly powerful effect on the structure and content of our daily lives,” said Summerhill CEO Ezra Cipes. “As entrepreneurs in a multifaceted industry that involves farming, manufacturing, marketing, and hospitality, we see ourselves as having a responsibility to contribute to culture in a way that aligns with the eternal values that nurture health and happiness in humanity. This responsibility is our primary motivator, not profit alone.”

Cipes noted that his parents started working with Summerhill’s organic certifier back in 1988. “Organic certification is important because it provides transparency for the way we farm and make our wine,” he said. “After a two-year accreditation process, Summerhill has become a Certified B Corporation, which provides the same kind of transparency for the way we run our business. Our overall impact on our Earth and community is looked at; everything from the way we hire and treat our team members to every aspect of our supply chain. The B Corp certification is a mark that means we prioritize people and planet alongside profit, and are using business as a force for good.”

A few more facts about B Corps:

  • There are over 2,700 Certified B Corporations from more than 130 industries and 60 countries
  • Summerhill Pyramid is the first winery in Canada to gain the certification, and one of just 26 wineries worldwide
  • The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose.
  • The certification process uses credible, comprehensive, transparent, and independent standards of social and environmental performance, assessed in five categories: governance, workers, customers, community, and the environment. You can find Summerhill’s impact report here.

Three Summerhill wines

All three of these wines have been certified by Demeter as biodynamic wines. They are the first Demeter certified wines to come out of B.C.

Summerhill Grüner Veltliner Summerhill Vineyard 2017 ($28, 88 points) — A personable and quirky rendition of this rarely planted variety in the Okanagan Valley with a nose of apricot preserves, muddled apples, some peachy/pear notes and intriguing white pepper. Complex and thought-provoking on the palate with a range of apricot, lemon, quince, pepper and mineral notes on a vibrant finish.

Summerhill Vineyard Riesling 2017 ($28, 91 points) — Such a beautiful Riesling with a minerally-driven nose of lime, brisk apple, hint of petrol, and subtle tropical and peach notes. It has a touch of wild honey on the palate with waves of minerality, generous stone fruits, tart citrus and a vibrant, perfectly balanced finish.

Summerhill Pinot Noir Summerhill Vineyard 2018 ($35, 90 points) — This is B.C.’s first Demeter biodynamic certified red wine. The 100% estate Pinot was fermented in a 10,000 L oak tank and after fermentation, moved to stainless steel tanks to undergo malolactic fermentation. It was bottled unfiltered and unfined. There is a raw and natural sensation to this wine on the nose and palate, with highly perfumed aromas of fresh-crushed red berries, bramble, leather and earthy/savoury notes. The palate shows expressive red fruits, touch of cassis and anise that’s all fresh and finessed with a tangy finish. Quite different … in a good way.

Note: Information for the Certified B Corporation was provided by the winery. The wine reviews are written by Rick VanSickle