Pfeiffer Winery: Oregon Wines & Experiences to Remember

“Fine wine has a destiny,” Robin Pfeiffer told us during our lively morning visit to his Pfeiffer Winery on the Wine Bloggers Conference 2012 pre-excursion to Eugene, Oregon.  The fact that Pfeiffer Winery sells 90% of their 70-acre sustainable vineyard’s grapes to King Estate Vineyards, tells you they must be good. After a visit with Robin and Danuta Pfeiffer, you know their grapes and wine are good.

Pfeiffer’s vineyards were originally a sheep and chicken farm in Robin’s family. After eager French buyers called a few times in the early 1980s about purchasing the land, Robin says he realized they didn’t want the land for cheese. The Pfeiffer’s decided to plant the grapes and now have one of the oldest vineyards in the state.

Robin and Danuta greeted us outside their tasting and wine making barn below bright south facing vineyard slopes. To say this couple is in love is an understatement…with each other and their wine. Robin, a retired school teacher, and Danuta, a former co-host of the 700 Club, married 18 years ago after a quick courtship including Robin’s introduction of his family’s wines. During our visit, they shared their love and gregarious personalities with us.

Enter the barn and you are in for a surprise…it’s an intimate ‘candle-lit cave.’ Danuta welcomes everyone with the proper way to hold a wine glass and the wine tasting basics. Robin is famous for his Pinot Noir clinics. We sampled both through tasting eleven wines as Robin shared his thoughts…

 

  • In looking at a wine’s color, use a living light source like a candle. The flickering light lets you truly see the color’s character.
  • In the aroma, the most important thing you want to get… “I can’t wait to taste it!”
  • In the taste, “Fine wine is the other person at the table. It has a destiny and wants to get married…to a perfect food pairing.”
  • “When the wine tastes good, drink it! Don’t lay it down.”

Robin and Denuta make wines they like to drink. The 1,200 cases are only available in the tasting room and for wine club members. Somebody in The White House liked their wines too. The 2007 Pinot Noir Blue Dot Reserve was chosen to be served at Blair House as part of Obama’s 2009 pre-Inauguration festivities. This wine is now lovingly called the Presidential Pinot. It was definitely one of my favorites.

 2007 Pinot Noir Blue Dot Reserve

  • Variety: 100% Pinot Noir
  • Aroma: Cedar cherry nose
  • Taste: Cherry, peppery with a sweet blueberry finish
  • Price: $70
  • My thoughts: A great wine with a great story!

I also enjoyed their 2011 Pinot Gris, the second bottle I stowed away in my suitcase to bring home. Robin surprised the group by opening a bottle of two more winners…their 2005 Pinot Noir, what Robin and Danuta say is the finest wine they’ve made in 35 years, and their 2010 Pinot Noir, the small 250 case lot to be released in 2014 “tastes better at this age than any other vintage” they’ve made.

Robin closed out our visit in their beautiful water gardens with a talk about viticulture. With grape vine, leaf and cluster in hand, Robin described it as this…

  • The leaf is the factory.
  • The product the factory is producing is sugar.
  • The workers are the sun.
  • The warehouse is the grapes.
  • It takes 12-14 factories to fill the warehouse in one cluster of grapes.
  • And the owner can’t control any of it, except the number of warehouses.
  • At some point each year, you have to pull the trigger and pick which warehouses to let fill up. let some of the warehouses fill up. It’s a guessing game but some grape clusters must go.

It was a morning full of Oregon Pinot wine, love and learning. Definitely one of the highlights of my time in Oregon!

Cheers to Pfeiffer Winery!