Our Story

Pfeiffer Wines began its life in the 1870’s when Frenchman Camille Reau purchased 268 acres (including our Sunday Creek vineyard) from the Crown.

In the late 1800’s Reau sold his Sunday Creek vineyard to Monsieur Joseph Gassies and it was Gassies who built the original brick cellars in Distillery Road, in 1895.

Gassies was an eminent French viticulturist with a particular interest in vine disease. A true intellect, he was also interested in engineering, spending a good deal of his time and substance in his experiments, which were carried out on a wheel with balances ingeniously arranged. Whilst he did not solve the theory of perpetual motion, he did erect a flying fox and pully system for the boats to get back and forth across Sunday Creek to and from his Sunday Creek vineyard.

In 1898 Monsieur Gassies sold his property to a partnership of two men; Masterton and Dobbin. David Masterton was 22 at the time and took over control of the commercial side of the venture. Charles Leonard Dobbin was just 20 years old and went on to study spirit distillation. Over the next 39 years the men grew the distillery to be a large and profitable spirit operation. Their demise was caused by their workers illegally selling the spirit, causing Masterton and Dobbin to go into voluntary liquidation in 1937.

B Seppelt & Sons, already established in Rutherglen with a winery, took on the distillery and developed a very large operation with export markets of brandy to the UK. To achieve this aim, the old pot still was replaced with a huge column still. Sadly this caused the premature death of long-time worker for Masterton and Dobbin and Seppelts, Joe Webster, when the sand in the still pit collapsed, suffocating Joe.

With the development of table wine after WWII, the Seppelt distilling operations slowed down, until the last spirit was distilled in 1979. The still was then dismantled, sadly destroyed, and sold for scrap metal. The old still tower and towering brick chimney and interesting collection of buildings remain today as the testimony to years gone by.

In 1984 Chris and Robyn Pfeiffer had a vision of reopening the historic old cellars, not as a distillery, but as a winery. With 25 acres of Seppelts experimental vineyard also sold with the distillery, they opened up the old buildings and gave them a new lease of life.

Sandblasting and floor reconstruction occurred, toilets were put in to the old brandy vats, winery equipment was installed, vineyards were tended and developed, and Chris and Robyn Pfeiffer, opened for cellar door sales in May 1985. Chris had previously worked for Lindemans Wines in every one of their locations throughout Australia, enabling him to operate all functions in their vineyard and winery.

Chris and Robyn concentrated on making quality wine in small quantities, available from the winery cellar door, through their mailing list, specialty wine shops and quality restaurants. Lunches were conducted throughout the year and special events held on their beautiful bridge, over Sunday Creek, which leads to their Sunday Creek vineyard. The vineyard had some very rare and special vines including their plantings of Gamay, Pinot Noir with a lineage going back to the Busby collection of 1832 and many unusual Portuguese Port varieties.

In 1997 and 1998 their Carlyle Vineyard was developed to provide fruit in times of flood. There have been dry conditions ever since!!!

2000, the new millennium, saw Chris and Robyn’s younger daughter, Jen Pfeiffer, come home to the winery to join her Dad as a winemaker. Jen now makes the wine and runs the day to day vineyard and winery operations. Chris helps Jen as needed and together they make a formidable wine making duo of Dad and Daughter…or should that now be Daughter and Dad?

Pfeiffer Wines Brick Cellars Built In 1895

David Masterton is pictured on the left beside the truck.

Pfeiffer Wines Circa 1950’s (owned by B Seppelt & Sons at this time)