History in the vines
Grape growing has been part of the Pfeiffer family way of life for four generations, beginning with 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 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, Martin continued the tradition at Whistler Wines developing his Heysen Estate property from basic farmland to the vineyard it is today. Martin started his career at Penfold’s and eventually oversaw their entire viticulture program in South Australia. He was fortunate enough to obtain cuttings from the famous ‘Grange’ vineyards (Kalimna 3C, 1654 and BVRC30 clones), which were the 1st plantings on the estate in 1994.
Today, 14.73 Hectares of vines are planted on the estate including: 7.57 Hectares of Shiraz (Kalmina 3C, 1654, BVRC30, BVRC31, BVRC12, R7EV13); 0.55 Hectares of Semillon (BVRC32); 1.55 Hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon (G9V3, G9V4); 2.42 Hectares of Grenache (BVRC139, BVRC140, BVRC38); 1.54 Hectares Mataro (BVRC138, BVRC139); and 1.1 Hectares of Riesling (BVRC61).
Like his father before him, Martin has shown his son’s Josh and Sam the art of grape growing, handing down the knowledge from the previous generations to ensure that the skills learned are not lost.
His son Josh (former Henschke winemaker) took an interest in the vineyard and influenced Martin to convert to organic practices in 2013 and biodynamic practices in 2017. We now employ 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.
Sam Pfeiffer – Wine Slinger +… (aka CEO)
Although Sam’s focus is slinging wine (sales), he started out in the wine industry working vintages here in the Barossa at Peter Lehmann, Yalumba and abroad in the Sonoma and Napa Valleys, California as well as in Marlborough, New Zealand.
His love for people is what eventually lead him into sales which began in fine wine liquor stores and evolved into representing brands such as Bollinger Champagne, Henschke, Petaluma and Oyster Bay here in Australia and in Canada.
Now at Whistler, in addition to looking after all sales streams including export, domestic, cellar door, and direct to consumer, Sam oversees everything from operations and logistics to marketing and business development. Sam still gets his winemaking fix during vintage and jumps at any opportunity to help in the winery!
Michael J. Corbett - Winemaker
Fair to say that Michael J. Corbett has crammed a lot of experience into his winemaking career thus far, working 26 vintages across 13 regions in four countries – New Zealand, Australia, France and the USA. To name only a few, some of Michael’s career influencers have included time working at Ta Mata Estate (Hawkes Bay, NZ), Tyrrells (Hunter Valley, Australia) and Francois Lurton (Roussillon, France). These have all contributed to Michael’s notable ability to deliver a dynamic and modern twist on traditional styles.
Starting with great fruit is naturally critical, but beyond the hard work in vineyard, the layers of subtle complexity and detail that characterise the wines are built with a panoply of methods. Complexing ferments in various ways; judicious use of skin contact, both brief and significantly extended; vessels of many shapes and sizes for fermentation and élevage; and an almost religious adherence to a no-fining and no-filtration policy, result in wines of uncommon complexity, texture and unforced character.
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 low intervention wines.
While we continue to produce our traditional, Barossan styled Estate and Reserve Ranges, full of delicious single vineyard fruit, we’ve also evolved with the development of the Next Gen Range where a lighter, drink-now style provides a point of difference. Here, our winemaking team has the freedom to express the best of each vintage, so our blends can change year-on-year. This creative space has also led to the release of a few natural wines, a growing scene in the wine world.
Together with his wife Kelsey, Sam welcomes you to embark on the journey of family tradition that has been in his blood for 4 generations.