Terroir unlike any other: The Wairau Bar

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.

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.

The Wairau Bar is New Zealand’s earliest known 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.

It seems that the Wairau Bar was probably a permanent settlement. 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 the Rangitane iwi.

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.

Terroir unlike any other: The Wairau Bar

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…

Haysley MacDonald

No matter where I travel, I always think of home, says Haysley MacDonald – Director & Proprietor of te Pā Wines. 

Chinese language

This section is for Chinese language speakers who want to learn more about the Marlborough wine region. Thanks to NZ Wine Growers for these resources. …

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About our logo: Hei Matau

Our logo speaks to who we are as a family, as a people, and as an award-winning wine producer.  

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Sam Bennett

“Great wine is all about respect.  Respect for the fruit, respect for the land, and respect for the people and the process.” Sam Bennett…

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Our Place: The lay of the land

At te Pā, there’s a sense that the whole valley leads to us; carved over many millennia by the Wairau River.

Our Place: Flora & Fauna

For generations, we have made the most of the mighty Wairau River which runs through our land. 

Gareth Exton

“The best vintage starts with an understanding of where you are.” Gareth Exton – Vineyard Manager

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A way of life

“We fish the river and out to sea. My grandfather did exactly the same thing. Nothing’s changed,”  reflects Phillip MacDonald,…

Our family history

Over the years, we have been many things. Fishermen, farmers, horticulturists — and now, winemakers. Yet while we will always embrace change, we…

te Pā today

Our ancestors knew the value of family and connection with the land. That hasn’t changed. As Philip reflects, “At the end of the day we’re…

te Pā – our home for 800 years

At te Pā, the land has been the backbone of our family for 800 years. It's the heart of who we are, and all that we do. We'd like you to share that sense…