The Story of Ted and Verdun Part 2

I recently discovered a new author whose novels I fell in love with. They are real page turners that I couldn’t wait to finish, and when I did, I quickly returned the book to the library and borrowed another one.  Now, I don’t think for one minute that you have been hanging out, impatiently waiting for the sequel to my previous story about Ted and Verdun. But here it is, just below.

Some of you who are new to our Pfriends of Pfeiffer letters, won’t have read the original story.  However, I promised a sequel, but just before I do write that, I want to thank you for the overwhelming response I had to that original story about the day we arrived here on our 13th Wedding Anniversary. I tried to reply and quicker than I could, more emails came in.  I really did appreciate your replies and I am hoping you will accept my thanks now, as I write and you read, this sequel.

To quickly recap, Verdun had picked a posy of flowers to welcome us on the day we moved here.  Ted delivered them from his little grey Fergie tractor having driven from the neighbouring property in his only mode of transport at the time.  It was such a beautiful gift as it was our Wedding Anniversary. From that day until they left Wahgunyah, Ted delivered a posy of flowers from Verdun, each year for our Wedding Anniversary.  That kindness began nearly 40 years ago.

Ted and Verdun lived in a caravan on the original Tuileries property where John and Anna Bryers began their fantastic country restaurant in the historic Tuileries homestead.  Ted did gardening and ‘fix it’ jobs while Verdun grew herbs, vegetables and flowers and cleaned the restaurant.  These jobs were done in exchange for living on the property. It was amazing that Verdun could do this because Verdun had Polio as a child and had one useless arm that just hung at her side.

One day, Verdun told me she had planted the Liquid Amber trees at the front of our property.  They are now HUGE trees, at least 10 metres tall but back then they were hip height on me…pretty short. Verdun’s legacy provides shade in summer, glorious autumn colours right now, a dormant beauty in winter and lime green leaf burst in spring.  In every season and in fact, every day, I thank Verdun for her unsung heritage.  She told me they were seedlings that had sprung up from the old Liquid Amber trees in the original Tuileries garden.  She grew them up in pots, and had nowhere to plant them. Our property had been abandoned and Verdun saw the vacant boundary fence as a perfect place to plant her trees.

Can you imagine planting little trees and staking them with star pickets, with only one useful arm?  What a woman!  My regret is that I was about 40 years younger than I am today, fully focussed on starting our business, busy, and thinking only about following our dreams and ambitions. I failed to find out more about Ted and Verdun and that is now a huge regret.

Those beautiful trees remind me daily of Verdun and I am grateful.  I am also grateful, (and I am sure Verdun would have been too,) for the Oral Sabine Vaccine, as a preventative vaccine to Polio. I continue to be grateful for all the medical advances that keep us safe and healthy. I call it, the magic of Science. It continues to amaze me and I am very grateful.

Recollections by Robyn Pfeiffer

I am also very grateful for the life I have been privileged to live. Chris, as a young winemaker, took me to all of the Lindeman Wines locations throughout Australia. He worked. I taught in many schools and looked after the family and the home.

Chris started his winemaking career in 1974 at Lindemans Corowa, NSW and became friends with the original families from the Rutherglen winemaking fraternity. We then moved to Sydney to Lindeman’s blending, bottling and administration hub.  Chris remembers ‘THE’ computer took up a room about as big as a double garage!

From there, Chris made wine up in the Hunter Valley at Lindemans Ben Ean Winery.  As he often says, “Ben Ean was a very well made wine.  It paid my salary and everyone else’s too!”

Then we moved over to Coonawarra, SA to Rouge Homme and our elder daughter was born there.  Sadly for many, the call came to return to Corowa, to pull down the original Dr Henry Lindeman winery, relocate the wine and the equipment to other Lindeman locations, as well as building a processing plant on one of the two vineyards AND make the Vintage of 1979.  Even as I write this, I wonder how he did it.  It is amazing what can be achieved with youth, enthusiasm and dedication on your side.  Plus, while all this was going on, our winemaking daughter, Jen was born.

Upon the conclusion of that job, we moved to Lindeman’s largest winery, at Karadoc, Victoria.  That location became my home while Chris travelled back and forth to the processing winery he had built in Corowa, then to Leo Burings (part of Lindemans) in the Barossa Valley, back to Karadoc and the journey began again.  You see, by this time, Chris was in charge of ALL the fortified wine for the entire company. His job was not only a huge responsibility but it demanded a lot of travel and hands on at each winery location.  It was no wonder he missed out knowing about the Chicken Pox that spread through the Karadoc community…but that is another story.

And finally we come to how we came here. Chris was on one of his many trips to Corowa and a pump had broken down.  He needed to get it fixed quickly and the person who could do that was in Wangaratta.  Chris drove down Distillery Road and saw the Forthcoming Auction sign on the Seppelts property. He rang me and said, “what do you think of this idea?”  And so it came to be.  We moved here, to 167 Distillery Road Wahgunyah.

We arrived on our Wedding Annivetsary, we met Ted and Verdun, the planter of those beautiful trees you park under in summer and photograph in autumn.  Having read this far, you know I marvel daily, as to how they came to grace our property.

The next time you visit and park your car under one, pat the rough bark, look up to the sky and be like me, thankful.