You are in the backblocks of Waipara but Pegasus Bay’s airy, high-ceilinged villa immediately transports you somewhere else. Okay, clearly Europe. The open-plan inside dining area with leather couches and a fire in winter extends to elegant occasions in the gardens on warm days. It’s all about relaxed wining and dining, but seriousness lies just under the surface. The menu is high quality and it’s no secret how good the wines are. The staff match this casual front with an open friendliness, but the slick professionalism is obvious. The seasonal menus star quality local produce. A Canterbury lamb rump dish pairs perfectly cooked and rested slices of rump with fried Jerusalem artichoke and preserved lemon slices, an artichoke puree and a brightly green cavolo nero pesto. And a Pegasus Bay pinot noir is the perfect match.