Empson USA Pegasus Bay

Fact Sheet

Location: Waipara Valley, North Canterbury, New Zealand

Pegasus Bay was founded in the mid-1980?s by Ivan and Chris Donaldson and their four sons. The winemaker is the eldest son, Matt Donaldson. The Pegasus Bay Philosophy has always been to grow grapes of the highest quality that fully express the unique characters of their vineyard. Producing wines that have texture and length has been a long-time focus.

Points of Differentiation

  • Pegasus Bay is an accredited member of the NZWG sustainable viticulture program and is a firm believer in using natural methods to counteract pest and diseases
  • 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 an entirely family-owned and operated enterprise with eight family members working for the estate
  • The estate owns all the vineyards of Pegasus Bay
  • A benchmark estate for New Zealand wines
  • One of the few New Zealand producers to hold wine back in bottle before release
  • Some of the oldest vineyards in New Zealand
  • Much of the vineyard is un-grafted

The History

The Donaldson Family have been seriously involved in wine since the early 1970s and were pioneers of local grape growing and winemaking. Associate Professor and Consultant Neurologist, Ivan Donaldson, was also a wine writer and wine judge. Today, he oversees viticulture. His wife, Christine, was responsible for establishing the winery's breathtaking garden and still spends much of her time maintaining them.

Their eldest son, Matthew, graduated with an enology degree and a postgraduate diploma in viticulture from the Roseworthy College in Australia. Matthew is the winemaker at Pegasus Bay and has worked many vintages in other parts of the world, with a focus on Burgundy winemaking.

Edward Donaldson is the Marketing Manager, and his wife Belinda manages the award-winning Pegasus Bay Restaurant. Paul Donaldson, the youngest son, has an MBA degree and works as General Manager for the company. Middle son, Michael, is the latest to join the business as local sales manager. Pegasus Bay is an entirely family-owned and operated enterprise.

Winemaking philosophy: Pegasus Bay aims to grow grapes of the highest quality which fully expresses the features of the vineyard, and to handle these with the utmost respect. Natural methods and as little intervention as possible at all stages, from vine to bottle, typify their approach. They believe in sustainable vinicultural management, organic techniques, low crop levels, minimal handling of fruit during processing and gentle pressing. They allow wines to go through natural malolactic fermentation and clarify by settling. Their red wines are bottled without filtration. They aspire to capture the unique flavors of the vineyard in their wine.

The Terroir

The vineyards? location next to the Teviotdale Range provides maximum protection from easterly breezes. The heat of the day is trapped by smooth stones and gravels left behind by an ice age glacier. This soil is free draining and has low fertility, resulting in naturally reduced vine growth. North Canterbury is known for unsettled weather during flowering resulting in low yields of highly concentrated fruit. Long dry Autumns allow for extended hang time when desired.

This produces high quality, flavorful grapes, which fully express the qualities of this unique setting. An unusually large vineyard staff allows operations such as shoot thinning, crop thinning, bunch exposure and fruit selection to be performed with meticulous detail.