Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


From family garage to fully fledged winery…

This year, 2021, marks Pegasus Bay’s 30th vintage since the winery’s humble beginnings in the family garage in Christchurch back in 1991. Ivan and Chris Donaldson planted some of the first vines in Canterbury in 1971 when he was a consultant neurologist who started making wine as a hobby in the garage at home and, surprised by the depth of his family’s interest in wine, he and Chris then purchased land in the Waipara Valley in North Canterbury in 1986. The couple’s four sons are now all involved in running the business with the eldest, Mat, as winemaker; Mike as  Canterbury sales manager; Paul as general manager and Ed in charge of marketing.

Ivan says he always knew he would make wine one way or another but could never have predicted the extent of my family’s interest, and the success they have enjoyed together. “Their involvement has been vital and gives Chris and I a great deal of pride.”

It’s a fitting tribute to make one of their new releases my wine of this week, not only as a homage to their success but also because of its sheer high quality and small volumes, due to the challenges thrown up by the large crops in 2018. Here it is.

Wine of the week 

2018 Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir $52
Deep ruby in colour, deliciously dry and dense in texture. This is a full bodied Pinot Noir which struts the powerful side of the Pinot grape with bold tannins providing a structured framework to the summer berry flavours mid palate. The finish is long and refreshing,  leaving lingering impressions of velvety depth, red berry delicacy and decadence. One of New Zealand’s best Pinot Noirs every year – and this vintage is another goodie. Winemaker Mat Donaldson says the team chose to produce significantly less 2018 Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir due to large crops, preferring to produce small volumes (about a quarter of the usual production) to retain depth of flavour.