The mystery and science of Summerhill Pyramid Winery

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Kelowna BC

Built like the ancient Egyptians built ’em, the Summerhill Pyramid is said to have dehydrating properties, which may clarify the wine. Photo Elizabeth Chorney-Booth


The Kelowna British Columbia organic wine maker
produces vino fit for the pharaohs

Calm visibly overtakes the tour group as we enter the pyramid. Though it’s built to the exact specifications the Egyptians used to erect the Great Pyramid of Giza, Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s pyramid cellar is a polyhedral monument to organic wine located in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. Climbing the stairs to its main chamber, these wine tourists are tired from a long day of tastings in the valley.

As we enter the building’s central room, it takes a moment for our eyes to adjust to the darkness. There’s no electric lighting — just a hint of sunlight coming in from the top to expose rows of white chairs and the cool stone walls sloping up to the pyramid’s inner point, where a large crystal hangs. Without being told to do so, everyone speaks in hushed tones, instinctively sensing this is a sacred place.

Many Okanagan wineries purport to be either organic, biodynamic or both, but Summerhill Pyramid Winery, near Kelowna, is the only one that also relies on the mystical properties of the pyramid to make its wines special. Aligned to true north, it is constructed of wood, cement, stone and fiberglass but, we’re told, no ferrous metals, so that it will not somehow realign itself with magnetic north.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery Kelowna

Visitors can drop in to the winery to have a taste or embark on a guided tour of the pyramid. Photo: Elizabeth Chorney-Booth


The main chamber of the Summerhill Pyramid is used for celebrations and ceremonies during certain points of the lunar cycle as well as solstices, while cases of wine age within its cellar. The winemakers have done numerous taste tests with the public, comparing wines aged in the pyramid with the same vintages that have been cellared in a conventional manner. The overwhelming consensus, the winery claims, is that pyramid-cellared wine tastes somehow smoother and more aromatic. Summerhill CEO Ezra Cipes (son of the winery’s founder Stephan Cipes) says he definitely tastes the difference.

“The thought is that it clarifies the wine. My own experience is that if you do a taste test with two Pinot Noirs or two Merlots, with one having been in the pyramid, is that the one in the pyramid will be perceived as being younger. Some people like a more mature taste, some prefer it tasting younger, but everyone has noticed the difference between them,” Cipes says.

Clearly not wanting to seem too “out there,” Cipes won’t speculate on any spiritual forces at work and he won’t say that there are any tangible physical changes to the wine, but he has researched theories about pyramids and says there is some science at work that may be changing the quality of the wine.

“The only scientific, provable thing about pyramids, and this only applies to pyramids that are aligned to True North and don’t contain metal, is that there are more negative ions in the environment,” he says. “And that creates a dehydrating property.”

Summerhill Pyramid Wine Kelowna

Whether or not its pyramid cellar has anything to do with it, the winery’s sparkling, red, white and ice wines have earned a bazillion industry awards. Photo: Elizabeth Chorney-Booth


Whether you believe in pyramid power or not, Summerhill’s wines are consistently delicious. The best place to find its products are at the winery itself, where one can pick up any one of the label’s organic sparkling, red, white and ice wines. The winery also offers tours, which include a look inside the famed pyramid. Tours are $10 ($5 of which is refunded with purchase) and run daily during wine touring season at 12 pm, 2 pm, 4 pm, or by appointment.

Getting there

Summerhill Pyramid Winery is located on the west bank of Lake Okanagan, south of the city of Kelowna, British Columbia. The winery is an approximate half-hour drive south on Highway 97 (Okanagan Highway) from the Kelowna International Airport. Direct flights from Kelowna are available from both Calgary and Vancouver. Kelowna is a four-hour drive from the city of Vancouver or a seven-hour drive from Calgary.

What to eat

The main building at Summerhill Pyramid Winery (not the Pyramid Cellar) houses the Sunset Organic Bistro, which overlooks the vineyard. Chef Luca Paola’s fine dining menu includes dishes such as lamb, duck breast and vegetarian risotto, all of which can be paired with Summerhill wines.

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