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Discover our Best Kept Secrets…

Best’s Wines is one of Australia’s oldest and continuously family owned an operated wineries. Our history is a rich tapestry of stories dating back more than 150 years.

 

The timeline below tells the story of how two families collide and Best’s Wines Great Western evolved over 150 years, producing world-class wines that are now acclaimed, enjoyed and loved all over the world.

1866    1870    1880    1890    1900    1910    1920    1930    1940    1950    1960    1970    1980    1990    2000    2010    2020

A portrait of Best's Wines founder Henry Best

1866

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.

This image depicts Best's Vineyard Workers breaking for lunch C19th

1868

Henry plants the first vines in 1868. Best’s original 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) and are thought to be sourced from the Busby collection, Australia’s first vines.

Original Grape Press at Best's Wines c1870's

1869

Best’s becomes a functioning winery by 1869, although it takes more than 6 years to complete the project.

Best's Wines workers and family in the late 1800's

1870

Best’s Wines workers and family in the late 1800’s

The Great (Melbourne International) Exhibition 1880, a table of results

1880

The Melbourne International Exhibition 1880, a table of results with Henry Best awarded in the Second Order of Merit and Joseph Best presented with a Third Order of Merit certificate.

 

A view of Great Western from the vineyard.

1890

Looking west, a view of Great Western from the Concongella vineyard

Portrait of William Thomson circa 1890's

1893

Scottish born William Thomson also settles in Great Western and purchases Lorimers Vineyard and winery at Rhymney (13km south of Henry Best); At this time he renames it St Andrews.

Frederick Pinchon Thomson on his way to work

1900

William Thomson sells St Andrews to his son Frederick Pinchon. William returns to Melbourne to life as a temperance caterer.

1905 Gold Medal Europe

1905

In the early 20th century, Henry Best presented his wines throughout Europe and was awarded gold medals in Paris, Bordeaux, Brussels and London.

High Court Trademark text

1907

Best’s Great Western trademark is registered (number 5067) – one of Australia’s earliest wine company trademark.

Portrait of Frederick H Thomson circa 1960

1908

Frederick (Eric) Hamill Thomson is born.

Young Bill Thomson photo taken circa 1921

1911

William (Bill) Hamill Thomson is born.

Henry Best in Great western Cemetery.

1913

Henry Best dies age 81 and is buried in Great Western cemetery.

Best's Painted Roof

1920

In 1920 the famed Melbourne to Adelaide flight took place. To aid the pilots in navigation, local businesses on the ground were asked to paint signs on their roofs, Best’s Wines commissioned William Thomas Lewis, a painter from Stawell to paint the winery name on the top of its cellar door as a race landmark.

As 1929 celebrations kicked into gear across the country to celebrate the Centenary of Western Australia. One of the festivities was the East-West Air Race. Pilots flew the 3940km from Sydney to Perth in six stages (and 12 sections within those stages) On the Melbourne to Nhill section, the pilots needed a signpost to ensure they were flying on the right path, and again the renown Best’s Cellars painted roof came into view.

This painted sign has remained clear and crisp for viewers from the skies ever since.

Read more about The History Behind the Sign.

Third Prize, The Royal Agricultural Society, Grand Annual Exhibition 1920.

1920

William Thomson was presented with Third Prize from The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria in the Grand Annual Exhibition, Melbourne.

Fred H Thomson

1925

Fred H Thomson

Misery Farm in Swan Hill renamed St Andrews.

1930

The Thomson family purchases a vineyard at Swan Hill called Misery Farm- renaming it St Andrews in memory of the first vineyard.

Concongella Vineyard

1931

Bank hands back the keys to the Concongella vineyard to the Thomson family.

Eric Vivian (Viv) Hamill Thomson born, forth generation.

1938

Eric Vivian (Viv) Hamill Thomson born.

Metal lettering stencils used to name barrels.

1940

Metal lettering stencils used to name barrels.

Flood at Concongella vineyard January in 1946

1946

Flood at Concongella vineyard January in 1946.

1953 Best's Wines Very Highly Commended certificate Royal Melbourne Coronation Show

1953

Best’s Wines presented with a Very Highly Commended certificate, awarded by The Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria at the Royal Melbourne Coronation Show.

Working in the vineyard.

1956

Working in the vineyard.

View from the historic underground cellar

1960

View from the historic underground cellar at Best’s Wines.

Viv Thomson joins his family for his first vintage.

1961

Viv Thomson joins his family for his first vintage.

Ben Thomson, fifth generation.

1964

Benjamin Hamill Thomson is born, fifth Thomson generation.

Hamish 'Bart' Thomson born.

1966

Hamish ‘Bart’ Thomson born. Bart’s Block Shiraz planted at Best’s Concongella vineyard.

Pictured with 3rd generation Frederick (Eric) Hamill Thomson, William (Bill) Hamill Thomson,  4th generation Eric Vivian (Viv) Hamill Thomson, 5th generation Ben Thomson.

Original 1967 Millers Burgundy bottle, now known as Old Vine Pinot Meunier

1967

Originally known as Miller’s Burgundy, Best’s Old Vine Pinot Meunier was first produced by Viv Thomson in 1967.

Read more about Pinot Meunier, one of the oldest grape varieties growing at Best’s Wines, first planted in 1868.

Viv Thomson in 1972

1970

Viv among the Concongella vines.

Trevor Mast working in Best's Wines underground cellars circa 1978

1975

Viv Thomson decided to appoint the first external winemaker, Trevor Mast. Best’s Wines had grown significantly, as well as Australian Wine on the whole and Viv was needed to manage the company and develop relationships further afield. 

Image of Best's Cellars 1983

1980

Image of Best’s Cellars

Chris Thomson in vines with snow.

1981

Chris Thomson in vines with snow.

Simon Clayfield and Viv Thomson looking through Henry Best's Diary.

1988

Simon Clayfield appointed winemaker at Best’s Wines.

Hermitage through to Bin No. 0 Shiraz.

1990

Wine naming conventions are forced to change. French naming conventions are no longer permitted outside of France. Hermitage changed to varietal, Shiraz.

1992 Thomson Family Shiraz Magnum, Bottle.

1993

1992 vintage of flagship Thomson Family Shiraz is released to commemorate 100 years since the Thomson family settled in Great Western.

Salvation Hills vineyard in Rhymney.

1996

A property close to the original St Andrews homestead at Rhymney is purchased.

Michael Unwin appointed winemaker at Best's.

1997

Michael Unwin appointed winemaker at Best’s Wines.

Hamish Seabrook appointed winemaker at Bests.

2000

Hamish Seabrook appointed winemaker at Bests Wines.

Best's Wines cornerstone wine Bin No. 1 Shiraz with a glass.

2000

Best’s Wines cornerstone wine Bin No. 1 Shiraz is made for the first time.

Adam Wadewitz and his dog.

2005

Adam Wadewitz appointed winemaker at Best’s Wines.

Ben Thomson becomes MD

2008

Viv Thomson hands over reins of the company to son Ben.

Justin Purser with Ben Thomson and Viv Thomson

2011

Justin Purser is appointed winemaker at Best’s Wines.

Image of Best's 2011 Bin 1 Shiraz with the Jimmy Watson Trophy.

2012

Best’s Wines 2011 Bin 1 Shiraz wins Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at Royal Melbourne Wine show.

Best's Team recreate historical image.

2016

Best’s celebrates 150 years having been established in 1866.

The 'Nursery Block' Concongella Vineyard.

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.

Sugarloaf Creek

2018

Best’s Wines purchase Hyde park and rename it Sugarloaf Creek, a significant addition to the Best’s portfolio, ensuring protection against frost and increasing water security into the future.

Best's Thomson Family Shiraz and Bin 0 Shiraz classified.

2018

Langton’s classifies Best’s Thomson Family Shiraz as ‘Exceptional’ and Best’s Bin 0 Shiraz as ‘Outstanding’.

Best's Wines wins Best Value Winery of the Year in James Halliday's 2021 Wine Companion.

2020

Best’s Wines awarded Best Value Winery of the Year in James Halliday’s 2021 Wine Companion.

Ben, Viv and Hamish Thomson.

2020

The Thomson Family celebrates 100 years as custodians of Best’s Wines.

Ben Thomson accepting the inaugual YGOW Old Vineyard of the Year award 2021

2021

Best’s Wines accepts the inaugural Old Vineyard of the Year trophy from the Young Guns of Wine awards.

 

 

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