Cellar Talk with Jen Pfeiffer
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Honoring Women in Wine:
Pfeiffer on channeling passion, creative freedom and always striving to make better wine
Interviewed by Nick Baines
1. How did you get your start in wine?
My father was a winemaker and with the support of my mother, they established Pfeiffer Wines in 1984. I grew up playing in the winery cellars and earning my pocket money helping in various ways.
…It was a natural progression for me to return to the family business after finishing university. When I first came home, my father gave me the responsibility of making the Pfeiffer Shiraz. That wine won a gold medal, and I was hooked!
2. Where are you in your career now?
I have over twenty vintages under my belt, in Australia, Portugal and France, and I see many, many vintages ahead of me. I’ve had the opportunity to work with, and be mentored by, fantastic winemakers from all over the world, and I really love sharing that knowledge with the next generation as well.
3. How do Naked Angels empower you as a winemaker?
Angels have given me the opportunity to make wines with full freedom of creative expression. The great sense of security that the Angel funding brings has allowed me to invest more in my vineyards and my winery, with the focus of continued improvement and the pursuit of excellence.
4. What’s a BIG lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Being a passionate redhead, I can be emotional, fiery and feisty at times. In my youth, my passion certainly landed me in trouble from time to time, but as I mature, I’ve learnt to embrace all that emotion and channel it to positive outcomes.
5. What’s the message you have for other women winemakers?
My main message for other winemakers, female or not, is to constantly try to improve and succeed.
Keep learning about the technological advancements in our industry, and how you can apply them to your winemaking.
Keep challenging yourself, push further, try another technique, strive to always make better wine and provide a better customer experience.
6. What is your big hope for women in wine in the future?
I hope that women will continue to join the wine industry in all areas, but particularly those areas close to my heart – winemaking, viticulture and production.
Lastly, is there a women’s empowerment organization or cause you support or would like to?
It’s not specifically a women’s cause, but I’m going to say my Naked winemaker friend Carmen Stevens’ foundation in South Africa, which funds school meals for children who would normally go hungry during their school day. Both boys and girls are funded, but girls grow up to be women, and education is so important for women’s empowerment and the future of the world.
Nick Baines is a food and travel writer based in London.