Story Ideas

Cheers! to a beautiful partnership

Wildlife artist Robert Bateman and Summerhill Pyramid Winery team up to promote the environment

30 June 2011

I’m not sure which I adore most – the fruity, flavourful Pinot Gris I’m sipping on a hillside overlooking British Columbia’s Okanagan Lake, or the Robert Bateman artwork on the bottle’s label.

Bateman, of course, is Canada’s – and perhaps the world’s – most accomplished and beloved wildlife artist. Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna is Canada’s most visited organic winery. More than a thousand people stop each day in summer to sample award-winning wines and take some home.

But what’s Bateman’s artwork doing on Summerhill’s wine?

Bateman has never endorsed any commercial product in his long career as an artist, so I’m surprised as much as I am delighted to be viewing Silent Witness – his masterful painting of a wolf in winter. It’s peering right at me from beside a snow-covered cliff while I quaff.

Turns out that Bateman and Stephen Cipes, the owner of Summerhill, are soul mates. They both want to protect the environment and preserve it for future generations.

Bateman does it by showing us how beautiful the natural world is and by encouraging kids to get outdoors into it. Summerhill does it by growing intensely flavoured small grapes, using organic and biodynamic farming methods, which titillate our taste buds.

For years, Summerhill has been a partner in Bateman’s inspirational program for kids called Get To Know Your Wild Neighbours. So perhaps it’s not so surprising that Bateman is now letting Summerhill reproduce five of his original artworks for wine labels. In turn, Summerhill donates a dollar from the sale of each bottle to the artist’s program.

And just as the ‘Get to Know’ program is expanding across North America, the five Bateman-label wines are also leaving home. Cipes announced recently that Summerhill now produces enough wine to sell into the United States. In addition to the Pinot Gris, Summerhill will be shipping a Merlot, a Rosé and two Icewines – including a rare Pinot Noir – to American customers, all in collaboration with Bateman’s program.

Part of the magic behind these wines is not just their organic pedigree and beautiful artwork. They’re also ‘pyramid-energized’, like all of Summerhill’s wine.

Sounds strange, but Cipes has built a real pyramid on his property where he ages all his wine. He believes there’s something about the precise dimensions of a pyramid that creates an aura, which helps build layers of subtle flavour.

All I know is Summerhill’s wine and Bateman’s art are a beautiful combination.

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