What’s Your Next Adventure?

Renaming (and redesigning) retirement

## Photo provided
## Photo provided

By Danuta Pfeiffer

While preparing for our wine clinic presentation, we became distracted by the Chinstrap penguins scooping in and out of the icy waters off our balcony. The little black and white torpedoes of Antarctica looked more suited to fishing than flying. We were cruising on the Regent Seven Seas Voyager, a small, luxury ship whose six hundred passengers were treated to gigantic tabular icebergs, mammoth glaciers, breeching whales, and spectacular polar vistas— who also love fine wine. They were eager to learn more about what Oregon does best.

As designated Oregon wine ambassadors, Robin and I discovered there’s always a time and place to talk wine, whether on an estancia in Argentina, a motu in the South Pacific or visiting dragons on Komodo Island. We’ve given Oregon wine presentations while cruising rivers, including Europe’s Danube and Asia’s Mekong. And even brought Pinot Noir to the Great Wall of China! From Singapore to Syndey, Gibraltar to Casablanca, Lisbon to Venice, our Oregon wine clinics have educated and entertained hundreds of well-heeled travelers around the world.

We haven’t always lived like this. For over forty years, we worked bone-weary hard. My husband, Robin, planted and tended a seventy-acre vineyard on the family chicken farm, one of the first vineyards in the south Willamette Valley. Together, we developed our brand, grew our reputation, built a winery and tasting room with a lush water garden and grand fireplace pavilion. All the while nurturing a large wine club, many of whom became friends. Over the years, we harvested, pruned, hedged, fertilized, cultivated, pressed, fermented, bottled, labeled and served our wines to thousands of winery guests. Our Pinot Noir was even served on Barack Obama’s presidential table.

As the years wore on, so did our youth… Like many in our generation, we struggled to find family members willing to manage the vineyard and winery. They had their own lives and interests. Succession has its challenges. To enjoy other pursuits while still healthy, we needed to make some hard decisions. In a bitter-sweet move, we sold our beloved vineyard to King Estate, a nearby winery. They have long appreciated our grapes, purchasing fruit since its inception. King Estate is now developing a single vineyard designate label for Pfeiffer Vineyards. Their deep involvement and exceptional reputation in Oregon boosted our confidence that Pfeiffer Vineyard will remain in good hands.

After officially “retiring,” we were honored with the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award from Oregon’s wine industry. The question then arose, “now what?”
Society measures success by our achievements: promotions, awards and other professional milestones. For many, retirement marks the culmination of a lifetime of work and dedication. But what happens after achieving all we set out to do? Should we be content resting on our laurels and reminiscing about past glories? Or do we embrace the next chapter of our lives with the same passion and determination that brought us success in the first place?

The word “retirement” is not in our vocabulary. To us, retiring means withdrawing. Robin and I were not about to retreat from the knowledge and expertise we had acquired over our many years in the wine industry. Rather than view retirement as the end of our journey, we saw it as the beginning of a new adventure— one filled with endless possibilities and opportunities for self-discovery. We chose to re-focus our energy, concentrating on our post-achievement period where personal growth, meaningful experiences and creativity replace building and working. Recent studies have shown that personal relationships and community engagement are more beneficial to health, happiness and longevity than even diet and exercise! Rather than retreating, instead, we have transformed our expertise from hands-on involvement in operating a winery and vineyard to another area, traveling and promoting Oregon wines.

Re-focusing has given us time for reinvention. We’ve learned to embrace a new paradigm, one that celebrates the gentle pursuit of meaningfulness through adventure, community and sharing our passion for Oregon wine around the world. With acknowledgment of the Oregon Wine Board, we became Oregon wine ambassadors. We carry wines, brochures and business cards everywhere we travel. During cruises, we give PowerPoint presentations, host wine clinics, seminars, wine dinners and private tastings for global-trotting travelers.

Back home, we manage a small urban tasting room in Eugene where our legacy wine club members may access our remaining inventory of vintage Pfeiffer Pinot Noirs. We have time to dedicate to family, friends and our community. We’ve even become certified community emergency responders, and I’ve found time to continue writing.

All this is with an eye to what’s next— whether white water rafting in Patagonia or riding horses through the Andes in Tierra Del Fuego, there’s always another adventure with Oregon’s reds, whites and blends!

So, what can you do after you’ve achieved all you set out to do? The answer is simple— keep moving forward. Keep exploring, learning, growing. Use your skills acquired over the years in fresh new ways. Re-focus your energy. Find your joy, whether it’s gardening, painting, learning a new language, volunteering or watching penguins race through Antarctic waters. As we raise a glass to the next chapter of our lives, we invite you to embrace a new era of post-achievement.

Retirement doesn’t have to be the end of the journey— it can be the beginning of the greatest adventure yet.

The world is waiting— what will you do next?

Danuta Pfeiffer is a former broadcast journalist and award-winning author. Robin Pfeiffer was one of the grape-growing pioneers in the south Willamette Valley, planting his seventy-acre vineyard in 1983. Both are officially recognized as Oregon wine ambassadors by the Oregon Wine Board. With extensive experience and a deep-rooted connection to Oregon’s wine community, they were honored with the industry’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2023 and have dedicated themselves to promoting Oregon’s exceptional wines on a global scale.

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