At Forager Wine, it all started with a curiosity to let nature be more involved. To allow the wine to naturally ferment from grapes to wine outside in the vineyard.

I wanted to make a small batch of wine that I could truly call my own – and, who knows, perhaps something to pass onto the kids one day if things worked out alright.

Focusing on Pinot Noir that defines what we love about this variety – it can balance a fine sensory line between savoury and varietal fruit. Pushing boundaries while adhering to the traditional art of making wine.

When you plant Pinot Noir on limestone slopes located in cool climate weather perfection, the sense of place shines through strongly.

Enter ‘Forager’ – hand picked hillside grapes, using wild vineyard fermentations, no fining or filtration and aging without the use of heavy oak. It’s Pinot Noir with purity – and we think it’s a fine natural expression of this classic variety.

We are so glad you found us.


Forager Winemaker

The Vineyard

Forager Wine, Dom in vineyard

The Vineyard

Isolated Hill,
North Canterbury


There’s a very good reason why the best grapes are planted in this location.

We’re fortunate to have a wonderful relationship with dedicated grape growers and passionate farmers – The Black family. Their farm, ‘Isolated Hill’ – is uniquely situated on the limestone hills of Waiau, North Canterbury – 40 minutes scenic drive from the Waipara grape growing region, in the South Island of New Zealand. Andy and Jill Black first planted their renown vines back in 2000; 0.7 hectares of Pinot Noir to Abel and 667 clones. Vine density is 5000/ha, encouraging roots to dive deep into the limestone fissures.

The vineyard is located on the same hillside as the Amuri Limeworks, providing the ultimate mix of geology and cool climate. The north-west facing vines are tended by hand through frosty mornings to baking in mid-summer afternoons. Overlooking the Waiau River, this is beyond doubt a beautiful place to enjoy a glass of the finest wine.


The Amuri limestone is many millions of years old – deep, and hard in places, but allows for the natural drawing of water for the vines roots. Underfoot the real magic happens, as the fine soil:vine balance plays its part allowing the uptake of natural nutrients and minerals into the grapevine phloem, where the vine uses them for overall health and ripening of the grapes. The Burgundian varieties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir respond well to these soils in the right climate like Waiau offers.
Forager Wine
Forager Wine
The cool climate of North Canterbury brings unique challenges, but helps to preserve a genuine freshness to the fruit, as acidity stays beautifully intact during the final weeks of ripening. Isolated Hill Vineyard is surrounded by foothills and the majestic mountains of the Southern Alps – a dramatic backdrop to the vines as they bud and flourish.

The Method

The Heartbreak Grape


Allowing a wine to truly speak of place and season requires a light touch, intervening rarely – and only when it’s necessary. As stewards of each vintage, we remain close, waiting to guide the wine onto each next step – its evolution towards a bottled wine. The fruit is always hand picked, with careful attention to the individual sorting.
Forager Wine, vineyard
Forager Wine, Dom in vineyard

Outdoor Fermentation


Next is the wonders of fermentation. Traditionally this has always been performed under the roof of a winery building, where conditions are controlled and monitored. For Forager wines, this has been shunned in favour of allowing the fruit to ferment outside in the vineyard. When we did our first vintage, we knew we were pioneering this unique technique in New Zealand, and were excited by the potential results. This wild process allows the naturally microbial life of the vineyard environment to perform the fermentation. Without the use of temperature control the young wine will be open to the seasonal weather influence – sometimes fermenting warmer, and sometimes cooler depending on the year. After resting on skins in the vineyard for up to a month, the wine is pressed to fine grained French oak barrels for 15 months of carefully monitored aging before the bottling. Our own considered approach to making site-driven wine confidently speaks of its place.


Forager Wine, Dom in vineyard

Dom Maxwell


After many years working both locally and internationally in Europe and North America Dom Maxwell decided to start up Forager Wine in 2012. Dom has been making wine in North Canterbury since 2005 (incidentally a dry and robust year for Pinot!), and resides most of his time working as winemaker for the renowned Greystone Wines in the Waipara Valley, where the owners have let him follow his dreams of having his own small quality driven wine company.


Dom’s philosophy on winemaking was further moulded through working international harvests in Burgundy, Oregon and Rheingau.


Dom and his family are North Canterbury locals, enjoying the abundant outdoors on offer in the region, which includes of course wine and food. Dom has twice been named NZ Winemaker of the Year, accolades that place him in a small group of inspired winemakers.

Single Vineyard Pinot Noir

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This is the tenth release of Forager Pinot Noir, after frost wiped out the 2021 crop. 2022 was a naturally low yielding season as the vines rejuvenated from the 2021 frost. The season provided challenges throughout – requiring more hands on work in the vineyard as rain and higher humidity bought more growth to the vines. Several passes through this small vineyard to tend to shoot thinning, bunch thinning, dropping shoulders and leaf plucking have provided the natural raw ingredients for a vibrant and expressive wine. The fruit was hand picked in early April and left outside in the vines to ferment with a full 28 days on skins, before bringing to the winery for a gentle pressing to French oak barrels. The wine was aged for 15 months before bottling without fining or filtration.


Single Vineyard Pinot Noir


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North Canterbury


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    Founded in 2012, Forager Wine is the small, quality driven wine company of North Canterbury local and twice named NZ Winemaker of the Year, Dom Maxwell

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