Joelle Thomson

Wine writer and award winning wine author

What I am drinking, reading and savouring each week


Friday wine with Di Donaldson, health and wellness guru

Di Donaldson loves the great outdoors, Pinot Noir and empowering people to feel healthy in body and mind. She has been a competitive wind surfer, the owner-operator of a chain of gyms in Christchurch, prior to the 2011 earthquakes, and did work alongside her winemaker husband Mat Donaldson at Pegasus Bay in North Canterbury. She has now begun a new business called Reyouvenate, which builds on a fasting retreat that has been running for 20 years, mostly via word of mouth. She has added yoga and meditative practices into this new business, to which she brings her experience as a yoga, pilates and gym instructor as well as her passion for being in the great outdoors; walking, running, swimming and cycling - "Anything in moderation", she says, even wine. 

The weekly interview on this website is inspired by the Proust questionnaire.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Raising two wonderful daughters. I am so proud of them, now 19 and 21 years old. They are both so different but have beautiful souls, empathy and love helping and serving others. I also have three step children that I welcomed into my life and helped raise, very proud of them too.

What is your current state of mind?

Moving back into the health and wellness field, I have been focused on learning over the last 18 months. I am super excited and motivated to be back helping people. I have a lot to give.

What is your favourite part of winemaking?

I love seeing the vineyard change throughout the year, watching the dedicated and passionate team in the vineyard working all year through to the excitement of harvest, then watching talented winemakers take grapes and turn them into wine.

Do you have a most treasured wine?

Over harvest, Mat shares some amazing European wines, such as the 2005 Nicolas Rossignol. From New Zealand, I love Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir, although I possibly have a bit of a cellar palate, followed by Central Otago Pinot Noir.

Where is your favourite wine region?

North Canterbury and Central Otago, two regions full of a dedicated new generation of wine makers, who are diverse and passionate but I look forward to visiting more wine regions overseas, in time.

When and where are you at your happiest?

When I am by water, whether it's a lake or the sea. Walking on a beach, listening to the sound of the sea, jumping off jetties and, if there is phosphorus about, seeing the sea sparkle.

What do you most dislike in wine?

What I dislike about wine is that it’s true that moderation is key. 

What is your greatest regret?

Everything happens for a reason. I look back of some challenging situations in life and see them all as a learning experience.  I wish I had understood my dyslexia earlier but it wasm’t recognised in schools years ago. Words don’t come easily to me. 

What talent would you most like to have?

I love to sing but I don’t have a great singing voice.  

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Living in fear and I believe the last two years have caused so much fear, a lot of it caused by misinformation.

What is the trait that you most deplore in yourself?

I like to have structure and plan forward in my life. In some situations I would like to go with the flow more.

What do you most value in your friends?

Honesty and understanding.

What is your favourite meal?

Thai Green Papaya Salad. I miss travelling to Asia and look forward to returning soon.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing what do you think it would be?

I’m not sure we get the choice, but if I did, then definitely a women, I would like to have more children. If the choice was an animal, I'd be a bird. I used to dream a lot about flying.