Josef Niklaus Zuppiger

April 16, 1950May 3, 2021

Josef Niklaus Zuppiger April 16, 1950 - May 3, 2021

With broken hearts we announce that Josef Zuppiger passed peacefully on May 3rd after a year-long battle with cancer at age 71.

Joe was a self-made, industrious and creative person who lived his life with passion, courage and humility.

Originally known as Sepp, he was born on April 16, 1950 in Jona, Switzerland, the eldest child of Josef and Emma Zuppiger-Büsser. Raised with his siblings on a dairy farm and orchard, Joe's childhood was marked by respiratory illness that saw him separated from his family for long periods of time. The prevailing belief that higher elevation and clean mountain air would improve his health led to his enrollment at Klosterschule Disentis, a school housed within a Benedictine monastery in the mountains of Graubünden.

At age 16, the tragic death of his mother necessitated his greater involvement with the family farm. This intense period of newfound responsibility instilled in him a relentless work ethic, a curiosity about how things work, and a yearning to see the world beyond Switzerland. In his early twenties, he started taking English classes, where he met and fell in love with Margrit Amstad. The two were married in 1974 and spent their first three months working at an Israeli kibbutz before returning to Jona to start a family.

In the mid-80's, armed with an English-German dictionary and a keen sense of adventure, Joe and Margrit moved their young family from Switzerland to rural Alberta. After a decade of running a dairy farm near the community of Falun, Joe was ready for a career shift in the warmer climes of the Okanagan. Within five years of settling in Lake Country, Joe and Margrit founded Arrowleaf Cellars, the winery Joe steered as general manager, vineyard manager, winemaker’s advisor and groundskeeper until his passing. The winery was his life's work. Although he occasionally mused about retirement, he could never step away. The winery flourished because of his steadfast vision, his countless hours in the vineyard, his continual efforts to beautify the property, his warm and welcoming demeanor, and his impeccable taste buds.

Joe had a deep connection to the land and an intuitive sense for business. He was an autodidact with a multitude of talents and skills. His mechanical aptitude and knowledge of electronics, wood-working, building, plumbing, welding and a notable typing speed meant there were few things he couldn't build, fix, or Google if all else failed. He loved precision, quality, and a well-timed joke. His quirky sense of humour sometimes got lost in translation, but never failed to charm. When persuaded to take a break, he enjoyed vacationing in Chile and Argentina, studying Spanish, handcrafting children's toys, building concrete sculptures, and perfecting his Black Forest cake. He will be most remembered for his imaginative mind, boundless energy and determination, and his playful nature.

In addition to his parents Josef and Emma, Joe is predeceased by one sister, Beatrice. He leaves behind his loving wife Margrit; five children Manuel (Krista), Karin (Brendan), Christoph (Janelle), Jude (Paul) and Janine (Benjamin); grandchildren Molly, Ruby, Sam, Francis and Owen; and abroad, his stepmother Agathe and siblings Adi, Anton, Stephanie, Renate and Andrea. His loss is also deeply felt by Yossi, his hyperactive Jack Russell terrier of 14 years, the only one who could ever really keep up with him.

Joe was profoundly adored and admired by us all. His legacy will live on and we hope to make him proud.


A Celebration of Life will be held at a future time, when travel and gatherings are permitted. The family would like to extend our deepest gratitude to his doctors, especially Dr. Stone, the medical staff at the Kelowna Regional Hospital, the Kelowna Cancer Centre, and the Kelowna Hospice House for their compassionate care.

In memory of Joe, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the KGH Foundation to support the Central Okanagan Hospice House.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Josef Niklaus Zuppiger

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