(photos: first: The three new red wines at Summerhill sporting beautiful Robert Bateman labels.
Second: Don’t miss Summerhill’s new cocktail menu conceived by Gerry Jobe using ingredients foraged from the organic estate.  Here he is creating the Santa Fortuna cocktail.)

The release of three “serious red wines” by Summerhill Pyramid Winery in the summer has a special significance. Art on the labels was created specially by internationally renowned wildlife painter Robert Bateman.

“Our wines are the only commercial products Mr. Bateman has ever allowed his art work to be associated with,” CEO Ezra Cipes says. Part of the proceeds from each sale go to the Robert Bateman Foundation for its work with elementary school programs. Each image features an endangered animal living in the grasslands ecosystem where the Okanagan’s vineyards are planted.

“Robert Bateman is a great activist of our time, and is using his art to give the world his deep personal love of nature,” he says.
Bateman has a long connection with Summerhill Pyramid Winery. With their commitment to organic farming and production, and permaculture and biodynamic practices, the Cipes family has found a natural ally.

“Three very substantial collectible wines for cellaring,” have been made to create the Grasslands series of organic wines. They are drinkable now, Ezra says, but with decanting and lengthy exposure to air, like a young Grand Cru Bordeaux.  “But they deserve to be cellared.”

The 2010 Merlot was made from grapes harvested from organic vineyards in Kaleden and Okanagan Falls and the 2010 Cabernet Franc grapes were exclusively from Okanagan Falls. “2010 was a cool year in the Okanagan Valley. However I believe if we let these wines develop for a long period it will be seen as a vintage year in the Okanagan. They have the structure to develop into complex, beautiful wines. “

The third wine is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Syrah grown in Osoyoos and Oliver, respectively. “This is a warmer vintage, more approachable at a younger age, but one that still deserves to be cellared.”

“Choosing to purchase wine or food produced organically is a real statement,” Ezra says. “It is fundamentally different minded when you consume and produce in collaboration with nature instead of attempting to dominate it. It means your goals are to build diversity to ensure ultimately that nature sustains us.”

In the Sunset Organic Bistro, which broke new ground earlier this year by getting a license to sell beverages other than Summerhill wines, a new bar program created by cocktail consultant Gerry Jobe is making news. Jobe has created a series of cocktails especially for Summerhill, using some distinctly and occasionally eyebrow-raising ingredients. Smoke from a summer solstice fire was used to flavour a chokecherry blossom infused simple syrup. Some ingredients were aged in the pyramid and a Tibetan singing bowl is used in the making of some of the drinks.

Jobe has created five new specialty drinks and several updated versions of classic cocktails. Some include both Summerhill wines and quality spirits.

“Gerry is amazing,” Ezra says. “He really takes the art of bartending to a new level. This is definitely an exciting addition to our Bistro.”

~ Lorne Eckersley