Driving from Eugene to Junction City to discover another Lane County winery, Pfeiffer Winery, I noticed the location was next door to a winery I had visited in 2018 on a media trip to the Willamette Valley. The winery was Antiquum Farm, where the cycles of life frame Stephen Hagen’s farming philosophies. The sheep and his dogs caught my eye to tell me I had visited this place before. Knowing where I was, I figured Pfeiffer Winery would have a similar terroir, thus making their Pinot Noirs an excellent representation of the southern tip of the Willamette Valley.
My visit to Pfeiffer was part of the Wine Media Conference in Eugene and an event to discover a local Lane County Winery. The Pfeiffer’s pioneered the South Willamette Valley and Lane County because they were one of the original wineries in the area. The vineyard sits on 70 acres. King Estate Winery sources 90% of the grapes grown at Pfeiffer today.
Lane County Winery Pfeiffer
Tucked in the foothills of the Coast Range at the end of Jaeg Rd, Pfeiffer is the third Lane County winery I have visited. My last visit to the Willamette Valley in 2019 took me to Iris Vineyards. The ambiance at Pfeiffer was very different than both Iris and Antiquum. Upon entering Pfeiffer, I found the winery hopping for an early evening arrival. As the music played, I had a sense of a winery I might discover in Temecula.
From Chicken and Sheep To Wine
If you are looking for a good wine story, this Lane County winery delivers. Pfeifer was initially known as Pfeiffer Chicken Ranch and Sheep Farm. It was a difficult life back in 1947 when the Pfeiffers purchased the property. At one point, the family’s small farmhouse burned down, and the family ended up living in a Quonset hut. It was supposed to be temporary quarters, but it turned out the family lived there for 25 years.
By the 1970s, a French company showed interest in purchasing the property; Robin Pfeiffer, a school teacher, wondered why the French would want a south-facing sheep meadow. He dug deeper to discover that the French company was interested in the south-facing slopes with Bellpine soils and a microclimate of warm days and cool nights to grow Pinot Noir.
The composition of the Bellpine Series consists of moderately deep, well-drained soils formed in colluvium and residuum derived from sedimentary rocks located on smooth convex foothills. The soil is ideal for growing Pinot Noir and is found at the end of Jaeg Rd.
The family held onto the property, and by 1983 Robin convinced his father to plant Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Muscat, and Merlot on that south-facing sheep meadow. Planting the vineyard was the pivotal turn for Robin to switch his career hats and become a winemaker. Pfeiffer was one of the first vineyards in South Willamette Valley and perhaps the first Lane County winery.
Today, Pfeiffer is a green facility. They were one of the first wineries in the state of Oregon to become completely solar-powered.
In the 1990s, Robin met his future wife, Danuta, a broadcast journalist and author from a newspaper ad. It was love at first sight. It was with Danuta that the winery flourished. They built a home, established the winery, opened a tasting room, created the water garden and hospitality pavilion. Their love continues through their wines.
The Blue Dot
When the Pfeifer’s were raising sheep, they would mark their sheep with a blue dot. Remembering their farming heritage, their reserve Pinot Noir is named after those blue dotted sheep, thereby distinguishing it from their other Pinot Noirs.
The Water Garden
Although there are three spots to taste wine at Pfeiffer, I recommend sitting in the water garden. You will not only enjoy the wine, but the landscape with the flow of water nearby is quite pleasant. This outdoor area will not only enhance your tasting but make your visit a memorable one.
Pfeiffer is known primarily for its Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.
Pinot Gris: I found a bright, crisp wine showcasing flavors of apple and grapefruit.
In the Pink Rosé 2020: The wine exhibited a bright and fresh wine featuring flavors of strawberry with hints of citrus.
Blue Dot Reserve Pinot Noir 2016: I discovered a wonderfully and elegantly balanced Pinot Noir accented with hints of spices that aged in New French light toasted oak.
Blue Line Barrel Select Pinot Noir 2017: This lovely and expressive Pinot Noir aged in neutral French oak.
Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer received a hosted visit and wine tasting. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.