History in the Vines

Grape growing has been part of the Pfeiffer family way of life for four generations, beginning with Josh’s great grandfather, Albert Heinrich Pfeiffer, who owned a vineyard in the Riverland region of South Australia. Albert would spend many hours in the vines with his son Hubert, working the vineyard in bare feet with his faithful Clydesdale, Bloss, before harvesting the grapes and selling them to local producers.

Hubert Irving Pfeiffer, grandfather to Josh, soon followed in his father’s footsteps moving his family to a vineyard in Loxton. Hubert enjoyed wandering through the vines with his son Martin, and training both the vines and his young pupil, just as his father before him.

More than 80 years on, Josh’s father, Martin continued the tradition at Whistler Wines by planting 5 hectares of Shiraz (Kalimna 3C, 1654 and BVRC30 clones) in 1994. In 1997, Martins brother, Chris joined the business and enabled further growth of the vineyard, planting a further hectare of Shiraz (BVRC30 clone), 2 hectares of Merlot (D3V14 clone), 1.5 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon (D9V12 clone) and 1.5 hectares of Semillon (BVRC32 clone) . In 2001, a further 2 hectares of Grenache (BVRC139 clone), 2 hectares of Mataro (BVRC138) and a hectare of Riesling (BVRC31 clone) were planted to give us a total of 15 hectares on our Heysen Estate vineyard.

Today Martin is showing his son Josh the art of grape growing, handing down the knowledge from the previous generations to ensure that the skills learned are not lost.

Next Generation

Josh Pfeiffer- Grapegrower and Winemaker

After graduating from Adelaide University with a Bachelor of Oenology in 2007, Josh spent two years at Two Hands in the Barossa Valley as the Assistant Winemaker. In 2009, Josh accepted a position at Henschke Wines in Eden Valley and worked as part of the winemaking team for five years before moving back to Whistler in 2013.

With Josh taking over the vineyard management, it didn’t take long before his natural approach to wine started to roll into the vineyard, converting to organic practices in August 2013 and biodynamic practices in July 2017. We have employed a traditional Barossa method of controlling weeds under vine by dodging out, hilling back on, and knifing through the roots of young weeds to ensure that the soil microbiology stays as healthy as possible. We use 500, 501, soil activator and nettle tea in our biodynamic program.

In the winery, Josh takes a very hands off approach to winemaking, harvesting the fruit at optimum ripeness during the cool of the night, fermenting in traditional small open concrete fermenters before basket pressing. We use a percentage of new oak each year to refresh our barrels, but prefer ageing in older, larger format barrels before bottling the wines with no fining and no filtration.

The future

Going forward, our aim is to make our property as sustainable as possible, giving more back to the vineyard by improving soil health and limiting inputs in the winery to make our wines as natural as possible.

Our range of wines is continuing to evolve, as each vintage presents top performing varieties, so our range reflects those changes. The Next Generation Range is where a lot of these changes take place, with Josh having the freedom to express the best of each vintage without affecting our traditional Whistler products.

Josh’s passion for natural wine will continue to evolve the style of Whistler Wines over the years, while still maintaing the style of wines that we have built our reputation on.

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