It all started with a college geography class in the 1980s. Or was it European winemaking and grape growing in the guise of a geography class?Doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Jim Pfeiffer got caught up in it. The result, years later? Turtle Run Winery near Corydon where, Pfeiffer says, “Everything matters.”
He was not a wine aficionado when he entered the class, but the science, history, culture as well as geography behind it piqued his curiosity. “I was all in. I was just mesmerized.” Soon he was learning about every aspect that could affect winemaking through a concept called terroir, which says the specific taste and flavor of a wine is influenced by the environment in which it is produced. He knew he wanted to open a winery, so Pfeiffer looked at it all – climate, microclimate, soil, elevation, slope, cultivation practices, ….. He also knew he didn’t want to go where the wine industry was already established.
“I’m not a ‘me, too’ person,” he says, so he studied the geography of a number of sites in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and Indiana. Ultimately he chose to grow his grapes and build a winery near Corydon. He believes he made the right choice. “To make great wine, you need exceptional grapes,” he says. And he believes he found the best growing conditions possible in a new wine locale.
Pfeiffer acknowledges he’s different, and perhaps a bit intense. His mind is a whir to answer the continual “why’s” that intrigue him, so he’s always researching something or other. He’s studied topics as seemingly unrelated as the psychology of taste, chemistry of nutrition, birth order, taste buds, personality traits, even career mapping – all in connection with wine. And following that European way of winemaking that long-ago professor touted, he’s researched the effects of different sugars – glucose vs. fructose vs. sucrose – in wines. Espousing that plan himself, he adds no sugar. Pfeiffer also offers wine appreciation classes, where he shares his ideas.
For more information visit turtlerunwinery.com.