International, diverse, organic, sustainable, elegant… these words describe the world-class experience of Kelowna’s Summerhill Pyramid Winery and the Sunset Organic Bistro. Over 20 years of award-winning winemaking at Canada’s largest organic winery has placed Summerhill in a class unto itself. Its success is composed of many factors, one of which is the effect of the influential ladies of Summerhill.

A busy winery like Summerhill requires an intense team effort. During peak season, Summerhill employs over 100 people, many of whom are women. In fact, most of the key positions are filled by ladies. This interesting demographic led me to a great discussion about the important role women play in the theatre of Summerhill with Ruth Hanbury, Director of Consumer Wine Sales.

Like many team members, Hanbury started her Summerhill experience working in the wine shop and cellar, believing that it’s important for anyone in the wine industry to be a part of the cellar work.  It makes you look at a bottle of wine a little differently – where it came from, what work went into it.”

Hanbury describes Summerhill as a supportive winery that encourages staff  “to further themselves. It’s a very empowered workplace: we care about each other and Summerhill. There is freedom to explore here: from working in different aspects of the winery, to being able to create and implement new ideas, like our wine club.”

Hanbury says, “We wouldn’t be here without the award-winning wines – above and beyond that is the family aspect – Summerhill is my Canadian family. It comes down to the people, to the team at the end of the day. We all have different stresses and there is lots to do, but we have a team around us that truly supports us, so Summerhill can move forward and keep delivering.”

In addition to the empowered work environment, Summerhill boasts a true international flavour. People from all over the world come here to work, and the effect is unmistakable. Summerhill welcomes the world to its doors every step of the way, producing an authenticity felt by its visitors and employees.

In order to really experience the magic of Summerhill, Hanbury feels taking one of it’s daily tours (available at 12, 2, 4 & 6pm) is a must-do.

“Learn about organic, bio-dynamic farming, how sparkling wines are made and experience the pyramid. It’s fun, friendly, and unlike any other wine tour in the Okanagan!” says Hanbury. 

“Summerhill has so much here – the wines, the tour, the bistro and restaurant, the heritage house, the kekuli and the licensed picnic area. There are things for families with kids to do. Spend the afternoon, enjoy the vineyard, spend a couple of hours or more. You can easily spend the whole day here – we do. Every day! We’re the winery that welcomes everyone – we let people walk in the vineyard, look at the gardens – we’re open to everyone. You really aren’t just coming to a winery, you come to an experience of the Okanagan.”

~ Sarah Willard