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Profile: Haysley MacDonald

  • by Mikela Dennison
Settle in with a glass of wine for a big read, as we share this lovely new profile from New Zealand Winegrowers, on te Pā's Founder Haysley MacDonald:

"te Pā is a Marlborough-based wine company with an incredible history. Owner and founder of te Pā Wines Haysley MacDonald (Iwi / Tribal Affiliations: Rangitāne o Wairau, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Rārua) traces his family lineage back over 800 years, to some of the earliest migrations and arrivals of Māori, and to the Wairau Bar area of Marlborough where Haysley’s ancestors have lived ever since those early migrations.

In the 1900s the land that is now te Pā Wines was farmed by Haysley’s family for agricultural purposes, and in the 1990s his father grew potatoes there. People still recall a young Haysley tagging along with his dad Phillip to deliver sacks of potato chips all over the region.

In his 20s, Haysley travelled to the USA to explore the country. He drove trucks all over the states when, after a couple of years, his dad called him back home to the family farm. Haysley agreed, but convinced his dad that they needed to get into Sauvignon Blanc grape growing, instead of the humble potato. Together, they converted the estate into vineyards in 2003 and never looked back.

At this time the Lower Wairau Valley wasn’t seen as premium vineyard land. It was close to the water, at the foot of an ancient valley, and no one had planted in the area before. However quality of the fruit proved everyone wrong; it was sharp with tropical aromatics, with soft lush acidity and notes of passionfruit, guava and lime. Seeing how expressive and distinctive the fruit from the Lower Wairau Valley was, in 2011 Haysley launched his own wine brand ‘te Pā’, based on the word ‘Pā’ which is a traditional Māori settlement, or home. So, te Pā translates to 'our home'.

Since launching with the 2011 te Pā Sauvignon Blanc, the company has gone from strength to strength and te Pā wines are now exported to over 15 countries. Through a powerful combination of vineyard location, winemaking expertise, hard work and vision, together with a hunger to achieve at the highest levels of the wine industry, te Pā has been recognised by the IWSC as one of the leading white wine producers in the world. No small feat for a company started just over ten years ago."

Aroha nui and thank you to New Zealand Winegrowers for sharing this beautiful piece on Haysley and how te Pā came to be.

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