Jen Pfeiffer’s life is seriously wine.
Jen Pfeiffer was only 4 years old when her parents bought the historic “Old Distillery” property in Rutherglen in 1984.
Jen thrived in the Pfeiffer winery environment, enjoying the freedom of exploring the vineyard on her bike, and knowing all the best places to hide in the winery during games of hide and seek with her cousins. Growing up in a winemaking family, Jen was exposed to wine culture from a very early age, and thus began the process of absorption – soaking up plenty of knowledge about the Australian and international wine industries, and being exposed to some great wines from all around the world.
Thus, it would seem it was fate that Jen return to the family business, but not before a brief stint at Melbourne University studying Science/Law. In fact, it was in 2000 that Jen decided to come home to “do the vintage and earn a bit of cash, then head off overseas”. Jen was given the responsibility of making the 2000 Pfeiffer Shiraz, and discovered she had an affinity with winemaking, and that she really enjoyed the work. Jen was rewarded with a gold medal for that first wine, and the rest is history, as they say.
Today, Jen loves her winemaking role as much as ever, appealing to both her scientific and creative mind. Jen has a meticulous approach to her winemaking, believing it is the small details that can turn a good wine into a great wine. She strives for excellence across all styles, and enjoys the challenge of working with many and different varieties, from Riesling to Gamay and Shiraz to the fortifieds for which the Rutherglen region is famous. Jen is particularly passionate about fortified wines. “These are magical wines, with a great story to tell. They are wines of time and patience. They are wines made with both an eye on the past and the future.” It is with this vision that Jen aspires to become recognised as one of Australia’s pre-eminent fortified winemakers.
In 2005, Jen travelled to Beaujolais to work the vintage with the Saint-Charles family, owners of Chateau du Bluizard and Domaine de Conroy. Jen was responsible for the production of the wines at Domaine de Conroy (Côte de Brouilly). Jen learned many new techniques for working with Gamay, including the “pigeage” technique, which she now employs not only on her Gamay, but other wines made at Pfeiffer Wines.
In 2007, Jen fulfilled her holy grail, accepting a position with the Taylor Fladgate Partnership (famous for the Taylor, Fonseca, Croft and Delaforce brands) in Portugal. Jen worked at the Croft property, Quinta da Rôeda, in the heart of the Douro Valley, and was responsible for the production of white port and rosé port. This was an inspiring time for Jen, who fell in love with one of the greatest fortified producing regions of the world. She has a dream to one day purchase a small Douro vineyard to produce her own port wines!
As a direct result of her experience in Portugal, Jen made this country’s first rosé liqueur wine in 2008, the Pfeiffer Seriously Pink. This is an innovative wine, designed to be enjoyed as an aperitif, either over ice or as a long drink. It certainly is “fresh, fruity, fragrant and fun”, as the label states.
Jen is involved in the Australian wine show circuit, in a judging capacity. She is a judge at the Brisbane Fine Wine Show, the Rutherglen Wine Show and the Swan Hill Wine Show, with associate judge positions at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show and the Ballarat Show.
Jen is also a member of the Rutherglen Young Bloods, a group of 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation winemakers all working in their family businesses in Rutherglen. The Young Bloods aim is to raise the awareness of Australia’s younger generations of wine drinkers about Rutherglen’s wines and whose vision is to reinvigorate a region proud of its tradition.
In November 2009, at age 30, Jen was awarded the Wine Society’s Young Winemaker of the Year Sommelier’s Choice Award. Jen was awarded the title from a pool of the very finest young winemakers from across Australia and New Zealand. The two outstanding wines which captured the sommeliers attention were the 2008 Pfeiffer Shiraz and the 2006 Pfeiffer Christopher’s VP.
Jen was a runner up in the Wine Society Young Winemaker of the Year in 2006 and 2007, so was thrilled to take out the prize in 2009.
This capped off a stellar 2009 for Jen and Pfeiffer Wines. Jen earned her winery a 5 star rating in James Halliday Wine Companion 2010 edition. She also picked up trophies for Best Wine of Show and Best Fortified Wine of Show at the Riverland Wine Show (Pfeiffer Grand Rutherglen Muscat), Best Victorian White Wine at the Ballarat Show (2008 Pfeiffer Chardonnay), Most Successful Exhibitor Ballarat Wine Show and Best Dessert Wine at the Brisbane Fine Wine Show (Pfeiffer Classic Rutherglen Topaque).
Jen has amassed over 300 medals and 12 trophies for Pfeiffer Wines in the past decade she has worked for the winery, plus had her wines nominated twice for export wine of the year.
Jen intends to continue her involvement in Pfeiffer Wines well into the future. She hopes to continue to push the boundaries of her winemaking and maintain the very high standards she has set, with a dedicated and committed approach. She hopes to grow the winery business and assist in the development of the Rutherglen region.