The Gibson family moved from Clydevale to Riversdale in the 1990s. Dad, Alistair, was a farm consultant and the family had a block of land and lived the rural life.
Duncan, the eldest of the four Gibson children started at St Peter’s College in 1996. He had some difficult years in his teens, but a few years as a boarder in the school hostel settled him down and he loved his time there. He especially remembers teachers, Lindy Cavanagh and Art Santure, who encouraged him to achieve his full potential.
School holidays were usually spent on farms but Duncan knew that although he loved the outdoor life, he didn’t want to be a farmer. Along with his brother Hamish, he was keen on kayaking. Through school, he took part in “Otago Paddles Up” and he went on to represent the school and became a member of the New Zealand Junior Development team. While kayaking he got to spend time in the wine growing areas of Central Otago and with a keen interest in chemistry he decided to pursue a career in winemaking.
A degree course in viticulture at Lincoln University was the starting point. Duncan found that this was character building in the broadest sense. It not only developed academic ability and how to do research, but also living with others taught compromise and social skills. After basic science in the first year, Duncan went on to study viticulture – the growing of grapes and oenology – the science of winemaking. During the course the students made many contacts with people from the wine industry – useful when it came to looking for jobs.
Duncan worked on the wine harvest at Villa Maria in Auckland then Tyrrells in the Hunter valley and the then Esk Valley Wines at Hawkes Bay, gaining experience as he went. In 2006 this led to a full time job as assistant winemaker at Chard Farm Vineyard near Queenstown.
Each year Duncan would go abroad in the off season. He travelled to Australia and also took part in northern hemisphere grape harvests in the Napper Valley USA and in Germany and Italy. Four working trips to French vineyards mean that he now has a working knowledge of the French language too. Since 2009 he has been assistant winemaker at Peregrine Wines in the Gibbston valley.