Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s CEO Ezra Cipes is proud to carry on his family legacy. The middle son of Summerhill co-founder and proprietor Stephen Cipes, he shares his father’s passion to make the winery and restaurant an international sensation.
Cipes’ responsibilities include the day-to-day operations, marketing and leadership. Within those parameters, he performs his role with conviction, creativity and humour, always striving to heighten the Summerhill experience.
“We are very focused as a family and as a company on expanding our vision of love and organics to every aspect of our operation. Right now we are focusing on the dining room experience, to make the service as exceptional as the food,” explains Cipes.
From major elements like team leadership and training, emphasizing knowledgeable, caring, and passionate serving staff, to the finer details like the sugar used for coffee and tea service, all aspects will be taken into account.
These important details are being ironed out in advance of Summerhill’s biggest change yet.
“By the time this article is published, we hope to have our food primary licence,” says Cipes. This licence allows the bistro to serve cocktails, beer and other spirits. Cipes notes that Summerhill “doesn’t want to remove focus from our wines, we want to expand the experience.”
Cipes surrounds himself with the best people, inspiring department heads to feel a sense of ownership within their areas of expertise, and involving them in the decision-making process. Weekly staff meetings, ongoing discussion, and positive reinforcement have made Summerhill a great place to work and visit.
“We have such a wonderful team: Chef Jesse Croy (Sunset Organic Bistro), Meg McManus (Director of Catering and Events), Ryan Andrews (Wine shop Manager), Eric von Krosigk (Winemaker), and almost everyone else is returning for the upcoming season. We’re still looking for that special someone to transform our dining room experience. We’ve used this downtime during winter to see how we can improve things for our visitors: how to serve people well and create a memorable and genuine experience,” says Cipes.
Since co-founder/Winemaker von Krosigk’s return in 2006, Summerhill’s wines have reflected his winemaking philosophy. Part of his style involves lower alcohol percentages.
“Alcohol has such a strong effect on the flavour. We look for elegance and balance, layers of subtle flavour and nuance. Bringing the alcohol down opens space for those nuances to express themselves,” explains Cipes.
This spring, all of Summerhill’s 2012 whites, 2010 reds and two limited-production 2012 Rosés will be released.
Cipes is particularly excited about how the 2010 reds have turned out, saying, “2010 was a challenging year in some ways. We’re really pleased with how the 2010 reds have developed as we get them ready for release. They are showing up with an elegant balance and a distinct, bright, fruit character, which seems to be a trait of the vintage.”
Spring Wine Festival Events:
“Sip Into Sunset Dinner Series,” nightly May 3-12, 5pm $48 or $63 (with wine flight)
Every evening throughout the Festival, enjoy Chef Croy’s four-course Table d’Hôte menu featuring seasonal, local, organic ingredients at the aptly named Sunset Organic Bistro. Wine pairings by Winemaker von Krosigk. Reservations highly recommended. Info:email@example.com or call 250.764.8000 ext 3.
Sunday Jazz Brunch (May 4 & 11)
Join Summerhill for an exceptional buffet, great music and ambiance. Contact winery for details.
~ Sarah Willard