Pioneer of the North Canterbury grape growing and winemaking scene, Pegasus Bay is a truly memorable place to visit. The Donaldson family has been dedicated to wine since the early 1970s. Known throughout the region as one of the top wine producers, the iconic Pegasus Bay cellar door is not to be missed on any Waipara itinerary. Entirely family owned since the very beginning, this beautiful winery is a true reflection of the Donaldson family’s dedication to the region.
Ivan and Christine Donaldson planted the first vines in 1986 along with their four sons – all of whom are involved in the family business, from vineyard management to winemaking to marketing and running a range of private, public and personalised events. Along with the popular Vine Run, the Pegasus Bay events team offers their spectacular gardens and tastefully decorated restaurant space for private event use. From weddings to corporate events and everything in between, Pegasus Bay promises a stunning venue with a difference and a complete wraparound personalised service for your special occasion. The much sought-after Collab Sessions is another Pegasus Bay event offering in the form of a Sunday lunch held on site every few months featuring a guest chef matching their creations to aged wines from the cellar. A range of intimate, one-off events are always in the pipeline for this busy events team, so keep your eye on Pegasus Bay’s website and social feeds for announcements or you’ll miss out to their league of avid followers.
Now in their 70s, Christine and Ivan are still active in the business. Christine continues to tend to the expansive garden and in the summer months you will always find Ivan in the vineyard overseeing the operation. The couple’s original approach of growing grapes of the highest quality with minimal intervention at all stages from vine to bottle is still the standard here. The team manages to capture the unique flavours of the vineyard in their wine with texture, length and drinkability being trademarks of their style. Pegasus Bay wines are made with estate grown fruit from their North Canterbury home vineyard.
The heart of North Canterbury, Pegasus Bay is the place where it all began.
Why North Canterbury? North Canterbury is right on the edge as far as the climate goes meaning it gets warm enough to ripen the fruit but cool enough to make refreshing, high-quality, cool climate wines. The extended hang time the region is known for allows a wide range of varieties to be successfully grown. Low rain fall is also a key factor. And finally, because of the comparatively low yields we get in North Canterbury, there is not a lot of big corporations meaning most of the producers are small and family owned, so lots of great personalities.
What’s your favourite thing to do in North Canterbury? Spending time in the high country lakes. Mind blowing scenery, plenty of fish and so many great spots to share a bottle with good friends.
Name your top three North Canterbury brands (other than your own!): Greystone, Black Estate, Bone Line