Foxes Island Wines, Awatere Estate, New Zealand

Welcome to Foxes Island

Founded in 1992 by French-trained, winemaker John Belsham, was one of the world's first flying winemakers, making wine in France and New Zealand.  Considered ambitious for the era, Belsham set out to make the best, single vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in New Zealand.  

Today, Foxes Island offers the most extensive collection of cellar-aged, single vineyard wines on release in New Zealand, and Belsham is one of New Zealand's most respected winemakers; he continues to make wines on multiple continents as a winemaking and wine business consultant.

John Belsham

It’s been said If ever a film were made about New Zealand wine, John Belsham would be the leading man. He cut his winemaking teeth in Bordeaux before becoming one of New Zealand's most highly-regarded winemakers.

An international winemaker, wine business consultant and critic, John Belsham has shaped and guided some of the most successful wine companies today.

Belsham founded Wine Focus, a consulting practice focused in areas of business strategy, technical winemaking expertise and sensory evaluation. He also designs wineries and water flow systems and has completed projects in Provence, France, Australia, and New Zealand.  He holds a number of board positions and advisory roles.

One of Australasia's most experienced and respected wine judges and critics, he was the airline wine consultant to Air New Zealand for 20 years and the lead wine panel chair for 16 years at Cuisine Magazine.

Belsham led the New Zealand Screw Cap Initiative, which shifted 95% of the NZ wine industry from cork to cap closures within 18 months between 2000 and 2001. Many international case studies have since been written on the Screw Cap Initiative as a positive disruptor and one that adapted an existing product in new, revolutionary ways.

Fluent in French and English, John speaks on a range of subjects and appears regularly for speaking engagements, television and film commentary.


The Awatere Estate

The Awatere Valley is located in the southern part of Marlborough and is an area with its own geological significance. The Estate with seven distinct terraces carved out during the glacial period sits on the Awatere River which carved a distinct path through the valley.  

The soils are approximately 40,000 years old. The top three meters of soil are a silty clay loam that sits on a bed of old river rock and papa limestone.  Perfect for Pinot Noir.

Taming the unruly, overgrown land required a sensitive approach to preserve the natural terracing and diverse soil profiles. After two years of careful planning and minimal soil disturbance, John Belsham planted the first vines in 2000.

Sustainably farmed from the start, the Awatere Estate vineyard has high-density plantings of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling; varietals all produced under the Foxes Island label.


Foxes Island Wines Pinot Noir Collection
Foxes Island Icon Le Renard Pinot Noir by John Belsham
Foxes Island Wines Artist Series 'Sunbird Karaoke' La Lapine


Cameron Douglas, Master of Wine

Outstanding, 95 Points

2014 Foxes Island Artist Series Pinot Noir

Why we should age Pinot Noir is exemplified with this artist series release Pinot Noir - aromas of fresh and aged cherry fruits, sweet and preserved plums, complexities from bottle age, and fragrances of earth, stones, roses, and barrel spices. Taut and dry on the palate with salivating tannins and acidity then flavors of red berries and plums, savoury dried herbs, and barrel spice qualities. Complex, lengthy, perfectly weighted, and ready to drink from 2023 through 2030+.


Outstanding, 95 Points

2014 Foxes Island Artist Series La Lapine Sauvignon Blanc

A captivating bouquet of complexity and bottle development, ripe citrus and tropical fruits, a lees and mineral core. Fragrant with fresh herbs and fruit spice, some minerals, and ferment complexities. A satin texture touches the palate first then acidity drives through flavors of lemon peel and apple, pineapple, and fresh herbs. The lees and ferment characters layer in complexity and spice, length and breadth. A delicious wine with texture, mouthfeel, flavor, and varietal qualities with a herbaceous layer and tropical fruit frame. Best drinking from 2023 through 2027.


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