Pyramid Power Taking Canadian Wines to New Heights: An Organic Champagne Toast for 2014

main cipes brut post imageI’m getting a good feeling for 2014, especially when it comes to the Real Food Revolution and the insanity that is GMOs.  It seems like the momentum has been building throughout 2013.  It began with Prop 37 at the end of 2012, the California initiative in the 2012 US election that would have required labeling for all foods containing GMOs.  Although the initiative failed, (leaving many unanswered questions I might add), it was  by a very close margin, but what it did accomplish was to bring what had been a somewhat “hidden or unknown” issue into the mainstream.  The March Against Monsanto was then held in May of 2013, and took many by surprise with over 1 million people around the world actively participating.  We’ve since seen more and more US states introduce GMO labeling legislation, including an outright ban of GMOs on the Big Island of Hawaii.

The fight is not over, though we definitely appear to be headed in a positive direction.  The more this issue becomes known in the mainstream, the more people will opt for brands that have the Non-GMO Verified label over the brands that do not.  Jeffrey Smith, the head of the Institute for Responsible Technology says that even a 5 % change in sales is enough to make the big food manufacturers pay attention and rethink their ingredients.  As a matter of fact, after a campaign against Cheerios, General Mills announced this week that Cheerios, would be GMO free.  They haven’t yet agreed to have independent verification or mentioned anything about any of their other products, but consumers made themselves heard and are making a difference.

As for the champagne for this year’s toast, I’m sticking a little closer to home this time, (well sort of anyways, the vineyard is in BC and I’m more East Coast, but we’re both in Canada),  and going with a champagne – ahem sparkling wine rather, that I’ve had the good fortune to try (and loved), Summerhill Pyramid’s Cipes Brut.

(digitally edited by Kevin Trowbridge)

Looks magical doesn’t it? (digitally edited by Kevin Trowbridge)

Summerhill Pyramid Winery is located in the Okanagan in British Columbia, which is fast becoming one of the premium wine growing regions in North America.  It was purchased by the Cipes family in 1986, and has since been operated using organic and biodynamic methods.  In fact, the winery became the first in BC to obtain Demeter Biodynamic certification in 2012.  The owners believe that this type of farming, which focuses on the soil, allows the grapes to better express the region’s very unique terroir, (love that word, it evokes such great images).

The Okanagan is a very special location with very unique attributes.  It is a 124 mile long valley that sits atop 10,000 year old glacier deposits, leaving a soil that is rich in minerals.  It is also located on the northern edge of the Sonoran Desert and bordered on either side by high mountain ranges, resulting in a very distinct climate that provides warmer summer temperatures than California and Bordeaux and a minimal rainfall, which is ideal for grapes to ripen to their full maturity.

Summerhill Organic and Biodynamic Vineyard

Summerhill Organic and Biodynamic Vineyard

Yet another interesting feature of the winery and the wine it produces is the pyramid structure built on the property.  “The Summerhill Pyramid is second only to the Great Pyramid of Egypt for alignment and precision.”   The Pyramid, is where the clarification and aging processes take place.  It is said that the sacred geometry involved in the construction of the Great Pyramid in Egypt has an impact on physical, chemical and biological processes.   Owner Stephen Cipes believes that this sacred geometry has had a positive impact on his wines, particularly the sparkling wines and has contributed to the numerous awards they have received.

Summerhill Pyramid

Summerhill Pyramid

Cipes Brut, our sparkling wine of choice for this year, is the winery’s first offering, having made its debut in 1991 and has won gold medals every year since.  It is a “traditional method sparkling wine” made with Reisling, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, and is said to “exhibits crisp acidity, a soft, creamy mousse, and a long finish”  It has received a 92 score and is very moderately priced at $26.95/ bottle, which means you can celebrate more often!  I definitely look forward to my next bottle of Cipes Brut, as well as some of the winery’s other offerings!

So there is much to look forward to and celebrate in 2014 and a great sparkling wine to do that with.  With definite signs that more people are awakening to the appalling state of our food supply, particularly the GMOs that can now be found in virtually all processed foods on grocery store shelves, there is reason to hope that we will see greater health and less suffering in the years to come.

So here is to a year of great food and wine adventures intertwined with lots of love, laughter and joy!  
Happy New Year!   
Bonne Année!

For more information on GMOs and the risks they pose, visit the Institute for Responsible Technology

For more information on Cipes Brut or their other wines, or to visit the Summerhill Pyramid Winery, see here.  Wines can be ordered directly from Summerhill and shipped across Canada or join their wine club and get access to new releases, small lot wines, award winners and library wines.  As well, 5 of Summerhill’s wines including Cipes Rose are now available for direct shipment to US customers.

If you like pairing your sparkling wine and wine with chocolate here is a great chocolate option to try.