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Our Story

te Pa's home vineyard at the Wairau Bar in Marlborough New Zealand


It all began here. Around 1350 AD, it is said, the first canoes rode the crashing waves of the Wairau Bar in to the Wairau river mouth. People set foot in Aotearoa-New Zealand, perhaps for the very first time. Those people, were the direct ancestors of Haysley MacDonald, owner and founder of te Pa Family Vineyards. 

The Wairau Bar became New Zealand’s earliest known human settlement. It’s a long gravel bank formed where the Wairau River meets the sea. Back when it was occupied, the site was probably an island, ideally located to source plentiful kaimoana (seafood) and birdlife from the lagoon. The Wairau River also gave access inland.

Archaeologists first excavated the site in the mid-20th century, digging up many graves, including detailed adzes and personal ornaments. The bones and possessions were only repatriated to their rightful resting place in recent years, thanks to a team of archaeologists from the University of Otago and representatives of Haysley's iwi (tribe) Rangitane O Wairau.

Haysley's family lived on the land for centuries, and in the 20th century, began to farm the land, with cattle, dairy and later potatoes all thriving on the fertile lands and clean air and pristine artisian waters. 

Haysley was travelling in the USA, driving trucks across the vast states and generally experiencing the world, when his dad said it was time to return home and join the family farming business. Haysley said he'd come home - but he wanted to plant grapes, not milk cows or dig potatoes. Together, the family planted grapes in 2003 on their land near the Wairau Bar, initially growing for successful Marlborough wineries, and then launching the te Pa brand to critical acclaim with the te Pa 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Nestled between the mighty Wairau River and the azure waters of the Cook Strait ocean, with Cloudy Bay directly in front, te Pā’s home block vineyard at the Wairau Bar is as majestic as it is productive.

With the river to the south, and Cloudy Bay on the eastern boundary, these two bodies of water ensure continuous air flow throughout the growing season which dramatically reduces disease pressure and alleviates mid-summer heat spikes.

Soils range from rich fertile loams of varying depths overlying alluvial deposits, through to the sandy/silty soils of the seaside blocks. The Wairau Bar tends to ripen earlier than te Pā’s Awatere Valley vineyards, and this relates to the warmer nights and reduced diurnal range.

This unique microclimate gives the fruit parcels from this vineyard a soft acidity, pungent aromatics, and complex, ripe flavour profiles.



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