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History

In 1866, Henry Best purchased 73 acres of land in Great Western and a property named Concongella. With the first vines planted in 1867, Best’s became a functioning winery by 1869. Meanwhile in 1893, Scottish born William Thomson settles in the Great Western districts and purchases a winery at Rhymney.

By 1907, the Best’s trademark is registered, one of the first Australian wine companies to do so. In 1913, Henry Best aged 81 passed away and was laid to rest in the Great Western cemetery. In 1920, William Thomson and son Frederick Pinchon purchase the Best’s vineyards and winery for £10,000. In 1924, William Thomson died, passing the property to his son Frederick, who looked after it during The Great Depression of the 1930s. In 1908, Frederick (Eric) Hamill Thomson was born, forming the third generation. Then in 1938, a son Eric Vivian (Viv) Hamill Thomson was born, the fourth generation of the Thomson family.

Frederick Pinchon Thomson died in Hong Kong in 1949. In 1961, Viv joined the family winery for his first vintage. A son, Benjamin Hamill Thomson arrived in 1964 as the start of the fifth generation of Thomson’s. A decade later in 1974, Viv oversaw the relocation of The Stables Cellar Door to allow for expansion and the cellar door as we now know it was erected. One year later in 1975, Viv appointed the first ‘external’ winemaker of Best’s Great Western, Trevor Mast, who would go on to be known as one of Australia’s greatest ever winemakers. Viv Thomson became President of Victorian Wine Association in 1982 and continued his role as an active National Wine Show Judge. In 1988, Simon Clayfield was appointed Best’s winemaker.

Photogallery rendered here.

The first vintage of the flagship Thomson Family Shiraz was released in 1993 to commemorate the 100 years since the Thomson family settled in Rhymney, Great Western. In 2005, Adam Wadewitz was appointed winemaker at Best’s and in that same year, Best’s Thomson Family Shiraz receives the esteemed Langton’s Classification as ‘Outstanding’, while the Best’s Great Western Bin 0 Shiraz is classified ‘Distinguished’.

In 2008, Viv Thomson handed over the reins of the company to eldest son Ben and entered semi-retirement. In 2009, winemaker Adam Wadewitz won Dux of the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial. The year 2010 marked Viv Thomson’s 50th consecutive vintage and was together, with winemaker Adam Wadewitz, jointly nominated as Gourmet Traveller WINE magazine’s ‘Winemaker of the Year’.

In 2011 Adam moved on from Best’s to pursue other opportunities in the Great Western region, opening the way for winemaker Justin Purser to join Best’s and the Thomson family.


TIMELINE

• 1834 – Henry Best arrived in Tasmania as a child, arriving from Surrey England.
• 1866 – Henry Best purchased 73 acres of land with a frontage of two miles on the creek. The property was called Concongella.
• 1867 – Henry and his family started clearing land along the Concongella Creek ready for planting and the first vines were planted.
• 1869 – Best’s stables and cellar had been completed and Best’s now a working winery.
• 1893 – William Thomson (a Scot born in Paisley) and family settle in the Great Western district and purchase the Lorimers Vineyard and winery at Rhymney (13 km south of Henry Best). Together with their son Frederick Pinchon they build a house and declare themselves vignerons of St Andrews.
• 1900 – William Thomson sells St Andrews to his son Frederick Pinchon and returns to Melbourne to pursue his catering work.
• 1907 – Best’s Great Western trademark is registered (number 5067) – making it one of Australia’s earliest wine company trademarks.
• 1908 – Frederick (Eric) Hamill Thomson is born.
• 1911 – William (Bill) Hamill Thomson is born.
• 1913 – Henry Best dies age 81 – buried in Great Western cemetery alongside his brother Joseph.
• 1920 – Upon Henry Best’s death his son Charles sold enterprise to local vigneron William and son Frederick P Thomson. For the vineyard, all its equipment and the right to use the Best’s Great Western Wines name he paid £10,000. St Andrews, Fairview and Concongella were now in the hands of the Thomson family.
• 1924 – William Thomson dies.
• 1925 – Best’s Great Western Wines was incorporated listing as assets the three vineyards, some other properties, a stock of wine and brandy valued at £41,540.
• 1927 – Economic depression saw the sale of St Andrews Vineyard.
• 1930 – Thomson family purchased a small vineyard holding in Lake Boga at Swan Hill called Misery farm – renaming it St Andrews in memory of first vineyard.
• 1938 – Eric Vivian (Viv) Hamill Thomson is born – the Fourth Generation of the Thomson family.
• 1949 – Frederick P Thomson died on a holiday to Hong Kong and is buried in Hong Kong.
• 1961 – Viv Thomson joined his family for his first vintage.
• 1964 – Benjamin Hamill Thomson is born – the Fifth Generation of the Thomson family.
• 1967 - Viv Thomson undertakes his first solo vintage.
• 1974 – ‘The Stables’ Cellar Door at Great Western is relocated – piece by piece to allow for greater production in the winery.
• 1975 – Viv Thomson appoints Trevor Mast as the first external Winemaker at Best’s Great Western.
• 1982 – Viv Thomson becomes President of Victorian Wine Association and continues his active role as a National Wine Show Judge.
• 1988 – Simon Clayfield appointed Best’s Winemaker.
• 1993 – First vintage of the flagship Thomson Family Shiraz released to commemorate the 100 years since the Thomson family settled in Rhymney, Great Western.
• 1996 – A property close to the original St Andrews homestead at Rhymney was purchased and a new vineyard planted by Ben Thomson.
• 1997 - Winemaker Michael Unwin joins the Best's team.
• 2000 - Hamish Seabrook is appointed joint Winemaker at Best's.
• 2004 - Hamish wins Dux of Len Evans Tutorial.
• 2005 – Adam Wadewitz appointed winemaker at Best’s.
• 2005 – Langton’s classifies Best’s Thomson Family Shiraz as ‘Outstanding’ and Best’s Great Western Bin 0 Shiraz as ‘Distinguished.’
• 2008 – Viv Thomson hands over the reins of the company to eldest son Ben and enters semi-retirement
• 2009 - Winemaker Adam Wadewitz wins Dux of Len Evans Tutorial.
• 2010 - Viv Thomson’s 50th consecutive vintage at Best’s Great Western despite winemaker Adam Wadewitz being in charge of winemaking.
• 2010 – Best’s Great Western Bin 0 Shiraz 2008 awarded Liquor Merchants Association of Australian Perennial Trophy for best varietal wine, Shiraz at Royal Sydney Wine Show.
• 2010 – Adam Wadewitz and Viv Thomson joint nominations for the 2010 GTW Winemaker of the Year Award.
• 2011 – Winemaker Adam Wadewitz leaves Best’s to pursue opportunities in the Great Western region.
• 2011 – Justin Purser is appointed Winemaker at Best’s Great Western.
• 2012 – Best's Great Western 2011 Bin 1 Shiraz wins the Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show.
• 2013 – Best's Great Western 2011 Bin 1 Shiraz wins the Fine Wine Partners Trophy for Australia’s Wine of the Year 2013 at the Royal Sydney Wine Show.
• 2013 - Best's Great Western 2011 Chardonnay wins a gold medal at the Royal Sydney Wine Show for Best Current Vinatge Chardonnay.