With the release of Tiferet this spring, Summerhill Pyramid Winery continues to be a leader in the Canadian wine industry.
Tiferet (“beauty”), a blend of the vineyard’s finest red grapes, is the first uncooked Kosher wine produced in Canada.
Kosher? “The desire to share a great wine with my dear friend Rabbi Shmuly Hecht was the original inspiration to create Tiferet,” says Summerhill CEO Ezra Cipes. “Rabbi Shmuly would invite me over to taste these kosher wines that had all been cooked. In my opinion it ruins the wine, and I realized that Rabbi Shmuly didn’t know what wine is supposed to taste like.
“To make uncooked kosher wine that can be used within a Jewish ceremony, it must be made by those who live their lives as Sabbath-observant Jews. We set out to make the best wine possible. With hands off coaching by Eric von Krosigk, the most awarded winemaker in Canada, we used the best organic grapes in a vintage year – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc – and aged the wine in 100% new French and American oak barrels.”
A garage on the Summerhill property was converted into a tiny winery, small, simple winemaking machines were borrowed and Rabbi Shmuly went to work. Once fermentation started, he visited the winery twice daily, except on Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.
Fermentation was done in small containers, which slowed the process.
“It changed the nature of the wine,” says Ezra. “The proof is in the pudding—it turned out beautifully. It might be the best red wine we have made.”
Summerhill isn’t only about wine, though. In the gardens below Sunset Organic Bistro, Gabe Cipes and his crew spent the spring preparing the soil, planting seeds and working out plans for a productive growing season. All work is done according to the biodynamic calendar.
On one portion of the property, an entire log cabin was buried. The logs will provide a home to beneficial fungi and insects while adding nutrients to the soil.
The Summerhill gardens are unlike traditional gardens that have long, arrow-straight rows and tilled, weed-free paths. In fact, a visitor has to look twice before what seems to be a hodge-podge of repurposed double glass units, hay-covered mounds and teepeed bamboo beanpoles begin to look anything like a garden.
Spread around the property, and even between rows of grapevines, are plants like quince, plums, Saskatoon berries, hawthorns, soapalali, herbs of every description, and indigenous cattails and nettles. Thirteen bee colonies remain at rest until warmer weather stirs them into action.
The produce will become part of the Bistro menu. Some will make their way into tinctures and other products, all part of a grand plan to make Summerhill a viable, sustainable, ecologically balanced business endeavor – a managed oasis from which arises life-enhancing food and wine.
~ Lorne Eckersley