“If a wine critic was not passionate about any of Pegasus Bay’s wine they should seriously consider a change in career”
— NZ Wine Country

Donaldson Family

The Family

The Donaldson family have been immersed in the wine industry since the early 1970s and were pioneers of local grape growing and wine making. Associate Professor and Consultant Neurologist, Ivan Donaldson, first became interested in wine when his girlfriend at the time, Christine, gave him a book simply called - ‘Wine’.

Penned by English industry legend, Hugh Johnson, the book started Ivan on an exciting journey, that has never stopped. After travelling to explore the wine regions of Europe, Ivan returned home to plant one of the first vineyards of modern times in Canterbury… and to marry Christine, who has been an integral part of the Pegasus Bay story.

The first vineyard was a hobby with Ivan making wine in the garage at home on the weekends, in-between seeing patients at his private practice in the evening and after his shifts at the public hospital. He also started writing a wine column in the local paper (that he continued for over 20 years) and was a judge in numerous wine shows around the globe. In 2012 Ivan was awarded an Order of Merit for his contribution to Neurology.

By the mid 1980s Ivan and Chris had decided there was definitely a future for wine making in Canterbury. They went on to plant Pegasus Bay with the help of their four sons, who have all ended up working in key roles within the business. Ivan, now retired from medicine, continues to oversee viticulture while Chris’s ‘happy place’ is in the winery’s extensive grounds, now beautifully well-established thanks to her careful planting over the last 30 years.

Chris is also passionate about opera and the arts. She has embraced the local opera scene for many years, including singing in the chorus for a number of operatic productions. There has been many a concert held at the winery’s natural amphitheatre and a reserve range of wines have been dedicated to Chris’s love of opera.

Their eldest son, Matthew, is Winemaker and graduated with an oenology degree and a postgraduate diploma in viticulture from Roseworthy College, in Australia. He has worked numerous vintages in other parts of the world, with a particular focus on Burgundy, and in 2020 would have had his 28th vintage at Pegasus Bay.

Another son, Edward (a trained chef) is Marketing Manager and spends much of his time trotting the globe to promote the wines to around 20 countries where Pegasus Bay is distributed. His wife Belinda managers the hospitality side of the business.

Michael was the last son to join the business after his return from overseas, finding a natural fit as Local Sales Manager, while the youngest son Paul, who has an MBA, is the winery’s General Manager.

Pegasus Bay is proud to be entirely family-owned..

A Unique Vineyard

Planted in 1985 the Pegasus Bay vineyard is largely un-grafted producing ultra-low yields of grapes per vine with loose bunches and small berries. Tucked up under the lee of the Teviotdale Range, the vineyard gets maximum protection from the Pacific’s easterly breezes, while heat summation during the day is promoted by the smooth stones and gravels left behind by an ancient river bed washed down from the Southern Alps.

The soil is free draining and of low fertility, resulting in naturally reduced vine vigour. This produces optimally ripened, high quality, flavourful grapes, which fully express the qualities of this unique setting.

An extensive team of experienced vineyard staff allow operations such as shoot thinning, crop thinning, bunch exposure and fruit selection to be carried out meticulously. Vine age also plays an important role.

North Canterbury viticulture region

The Waipara Valley is in North Canterbury, on the east coast of the South Island in Aotearoa, New Zealand and a scenic 45 minute drive north of Christchurch.

Waipara has an ideal climate for grape growing, with high sunshine hours, hot dry summers and long autumns. To the west, lie the Southern Alps (Main Divide) from where the region’s notorious hot nor’west winds derive. Waipara’s sheltered position
and close proximity to the sea, provide warm days, cool nights and a dry autumn, resulting in a very prolonged ripening period for the grapes. This promotes intense flavour development and optimal ripeness, while retaining good natural acidity.

A spirited cluster of progressive thinking wine producers, proudly call this unique region home.

Sustainable viticulture

Pegasus Bay is an accredited member of the NZWG sustainable viticulture programme and firmly believe in the principles of using natural methods to counteract pests and diseases, rather than the application of unnecessary pesticides and herbicides.

A deep respect for the land with a long term view towards vine and soil health typifies the Donaldson Family’s approach to grape growing. Pegasus Bay is a proud supporter of the Greening Waipara Valley project.

Wine-making philosophy

Our aim is to grow grapes of the highest quality, which fully express the features of the vineyard and to handle these with the utmost respect. Minimal intervention at all stages from vine to bottle typifies our approach.

We believe in sustainable viticultural management, low crop levels, minimal handling of fruit during processing and gentle pressing. We allow wines to go through natural malolactic fermentation and clarification by settling, without the use of fining agents.

We aspire to capture the unique flavours of the vineyard in our wine with texture, length and drinkability being trademarks of our house style. Pegasus Bay wines are made with estate grown fruit from our North Canterbury home vineyard.

"Uncompromising quality across every variety and wine produced"
—Cameron Douglas MS, NZ
Pegasus Bay Winery, awarded Robert Parker’s highest producer rating “Outstanding”
—Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide 7th edition, USA
“Pegasus Bay constitutes one of New Zealand’s best producers.”
—Neal Martin, The Wine Advocate, USA
“Pegasus Bay gets my vote for Waipara's top producer for a number of reasons; it's wines are often exceptionally good and are always made in adventurous, out of the main stream styles.”
—Bob Campbell, MW, Gourmet Traveller Wine, Australia
Pegasus Bay included in “100 Most Iconic Wine Estates” world-wide.
—Matthew Jukes, UK
“If a wine critic was not passionate about any of Pegasus Bay's wine they should seriously consider a change in career”
—NZ Wine Country
“Pegasus Bay is Canterbury's top winery.”
—Michael Cooper’s Wine Atlas, New Zealand
“These wines deserved my time. When I returned to the UK, I frequently ended up in conversation with fellow wine writers about New Zealand wine and whenever their name cropped up, there was always consensus that this was one of the country’s most exciting producers”
—Neal Martin, eRobertParker.com

Pegasus Bay

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Off Licence.
Licence Holder:Donaldson Family Limited T/A:Pegasus Bay Winery.
Licence no:57/OFF/458/2022 Exp:16/3/2025