The story of Best's begins in 1866, when Henry Best purchases 30 hectares (73 acres) of land in the small town of Great Western, 230km North West of Melbourne. It was a property named Concongella. With the first vines planted in 1868, Best’s becomes a functioning winery by 1869. Meanwhile, Scottish born William Thomson also settles in Great Western and purchases a winery at Rhymney in 1893.
The timeline below tells the story of how these two families collide and Best's Great Western evolves over 150 years, producing world-class wines that are now acclaimed, enjoyed and loved all over the world.
Since 1868, Best’s has been making wines uninterrupted, striving to craft expressive, authentic regional wines in Victoria’s Great Western region. Best’s has been owned by two families since 1866 – the Best family, who founded the winery; and today, the Thomson family, having purchased the property in 1920, after Henry Best’s death. Best’s is now run by Viv Thomson’s son, Ben Thomson, the fifth generation of the Thomson family to manage the winery. Best’s old vineyards, planted in the 1860s, are among the oldest and rarest pre-phylloxera plantings in the world. The invaluable Best’s Nursery Block contains almost 40 varieties (some unidentified to this day).
1866 – Henry Best purchases 30 hectares (73 acres) of creek-frontage land called Concongella.
1868 – Henry plants first vines along Concongella Creek.
1869 – Best’s stables and cellar begin being built over a period of six years to become a working winery.
1893 – William Thomson (born in Scotland) purchases Lorimers Vineyard and winery at Rhymney (13km south of Henry Best); name it St Andrews.
1900 – William Thomson sells St Andrews to his son Frederick Pinchon. William returns to Melbourne
to life as a temperance caterer.
1907 – Best’s Great Western trademark is registered (number 5067) – 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 and is buried in Great Western cemetery.
1920 – After Henry Best’s death, son Charles sells business to Frederick P Thomson for £10,000. St Andrews and Concongella are now in the hands of the Thomson family.
1924 – William Thomson dies.
1925 – Best’s Great Western Wines is incorporated.
1927 – The Great Depression sees the sale of St Andrews Vineyard.
1929 – Bank forecloses on Concongella
1930 – Thomson family purchases a vineyard at Swan Hill called Misery Farm – renaming it St Andrews in memory of the first vineyard.
1931 – Bank hands back the keys to the Concongella vineyard to the Thomson Family.
1938 – Eric Vivian (Viv) Hamill Thomson is born, fourth generation Thomson.
1949 – Frederick P Thomson dies on a holiday in Hong Kong.
1961 – Viv Thomson joins his family for his first vintage.
1964 – Benjamin Hamill Thomson is born, fifth Thomson generation.
1966 – Hamish 'Bart' Thomson is born, second son to Viv & Chris. Bart's Block shiraz planted the same year.
1967 – Viv Thomson produces first single varietal Pinot Meunier from the original plantings
1968 – Yvette Brady (nee Thomson) born, Yvette is the third sibling and only daughter to Viv & Chris.
1970 – Marcus 'Sparky' Thomson born, third son and fourth child to Viv & Chris. Sparky's Block Shiraz planted.
1974 – The original stables are relocated to become the new cellar door.
1975 – Viv Thomson appoints Trevor Mast as first external winemaker at Best’s.
1988 – Simon Clayfield appointed winemaker at Best’s.
1993 – 1992 vintage of flagship Thomson Family Shiraz is released to commemorate 100 years since Thomson family settled in Great Western.
1996 – A property close to the original St Andrews homestead at Rhymney is purchased and
1997 – Michael Unwin appointed winemaker at Best’s.
2000 – Hamish Seabrook appointed winemaker at Best’s.
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 son Ben.
2011 – Justin Purser is appointed winemaker at Best’s.
2012 – Best’s Wines 2011 Bin 1 Shiraz wins Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at Royal Melbourne Wine Show.
2013 – Best’s Wines 2011 Bin 1 Shiraz wins Fine Wine Partners Trophy for Australia’s Wine of the Year at Royal Sydney Wine Show.
2016 – Best’s Wines 2014 Thomson Family Shiraz named James Halliday’s Wine of the Year in the 2017 Wine Companion.
2016 – Best's celebrates 150 years having been established in 1866
2018 – Langton’s classifies Best’s Thomson Family Shiraz as ‘Exceptional’ and Best’s Great Western Bin 0 Shiraz as ‘Outstanding.’
2017 – The Concongella Vineyard at Great Western succumbs to a once in a decade frost event, meaning we were unable to produce our premium wines in 2018.
2019 – Best's Wines purchase Sugarloaf Creek, a significant addition to the Best's portfolio, ensuring protection against frost and increasing water security into the future.
2020 – Best's Wines wins Best Value Winery of the Year in James Halliday's 2021 Wine Companion
2020 – Best's Wines celebrates 100 years of custodian ship by the Thomson Family
2021 – Best's Wines wins the inaugural Old Vineyard of the Year award from the Young Gun of Wine awards.