23 Robyn Pfeiffer "Pfacts"
By Robyn Pfeiffer
We were granted the 87th Victorian Vignerons licence. There are now 600 in Victoria.
Chris had 10 years of experience with Lindemans, the best apprenticeship he could have enjoyed. He worked in every Lindeman location, including winery, vineyard, sales and marketing and even computers! Good apprenticeship for his own business.
My first customer had to teach me how to use the corkscrew. He bought 3 bottles of Rhine Riesling, as it was called then.
The first wine connoisseur who twirled, sniffed, swirled and sucked was the reason we have two very obvious spittoons in our cellar door. I’ll let your imagination work here.
My first assistant at cellar door sales, went up the back once to help Chris in the winery, became hooked, went to Roseworthy, studied winemaking, and eventually became chief winemaker at Brown Brothers until he retired. He still calls me “Mrs. Boss”.
Our Gamay vines produced their very first crop for us, after being in the ground for 10 years and never producing fruit. We speak nicely to our vines. I even sing my Gamay song to them.
Did you know we are 1 of 17 growers of Gamay in Australia and the only grower in Rutherglen?
The first seminar that I attended about becoming a successful winery, taught me how to make a million. I have proved to be a slow learner!.
Chris used to offer to double my pay when he thought I had done a good job at cellar door! Double of nothing hasn't help my path to making that million.
Did you know our oldest vines are Pinot Noir and were planted in 1962.
The original vineyard, our Sunday Creek Vineyard, was purchased from Seppelts and had 25 acres of their experimental vineyard. That is why we have so many interesting varieties, including the 26 Portuguese port grape varieties which make up our Tawny.
After the Sunday Creek vineyard was flooded in 1996, when the water was released from the Hume Dam, we purchased the land for our Carlyle vineyard and began planting in 1997.
Our Carlyle vineyard is named after the local parish. Wahgunyah is within the shire of Indigo, (previously Rutherglen), in the Parish of Carlyle, in the County of Bogong, in the State of Victoria, in the Country, Australia. Each unit is bigger than the one before.
When we first started, we collected your name for our “Pfriends of Pfeiffer” newsletter. We used to file these in alphabetical order in a shoe box and address the envelopes by hand!
Pfeiffer Wines were one of the first wineries in Rutherglen to have wine and food dinners. The very “pfirst” dinner was held in the original Tuileries restaurant in the vineyard next door to our winery. I was so tired, I fell asleep. I promise not to do that at any of the functions still to come this year.
Chris celebrated 30 years of winemaking in 2003, 22 years of Chairman of the Winemakers of Rutherglen in 2008 and is a past Chair of the Victorian Wine Industry Association (twice)…this is absolute dedication to his industry and fittingly he was awarded a Order Of Australia medal in 2012.
Jen came home from University and made her “pfirst” vintage of wine in 2000. Her 2000 Shiraz is the “pfirst” of her string of Gold medals.
Once a customer of mine said the spelling of “Pfeiffer” was incorrect. As the customer is always correct, I said not to blame me as I had only married into the family.
Our Sunday Creek Bridge was renovated in 2004. It was 99 years old. It was a shame the original didn’t get to celebrate its century but the piles under the water and the huge steel girders which are still in place, are still there to this day.
In the spring of 1996 water was released from the Hume Dam and flooded our entire vineyard for 6-8 weeks. Since then we have been dry and then in drought. Having been through both I am now not sure which is worse – floods or a drought.
Over the years we have had trainee winemakers from all over the world come to work and live in our home with us for 3-6months. They have come from The Netherlands, USA, (1 is now a Master of Wine and works for Robert Mondavi), many different regions in France, Germany, South Africa, UK, Hungary, Portugal, Spain, Columbia, Russia and Moldova.
When Jen turned 21 we had a special family dinner where all the wines were from vintage 1979. When telling a customer about this, she thought I meant we had drunk 79 wines!!!!!!!!
Our elder daughter Melissa got married to Matthew in 2007. Guests were served Grand Rutherglen Muscat with the wedding cake. This was a symbolic choice as we have always referred to this particular wine as “Melissa’s Muscat”