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


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


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


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


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

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


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.


1888 Great Exhibition Certificate of Award, Melbourne 31 January 1889


The Great Exhibition Centennial International Exhibitor, Mr H Best awarded a Third Order of Merit certificate of award for his 1885 Chablis.

A view of Great Western from the vineyard.


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

Portrait of William Thomson circa 1890's


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.

1895 Second Prize Certificate, Ararat Agricultural, Pastoral and Horticultural Society show, Ararat


William Thomson awarded Second prize for White wine, in the 1895 Ararat Agricultural, Pastoral and Horticultural Society show. The fruit was grown in the St Andrew’s vineyard at Rhymney. 

Frederick Pinchon Thomson on his way to work


William Thomson sells St Andrews to his son Frederick Pinchon. Pictured is Frederick on his way to work. William returns to Melbourne to life as a temperance caterer.

1905 Gold Medal Europe


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


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

Portrait of Frederick H Thomson circa 1960


Frederick (Eric) Hamill Thomson is born.

Young Bill Thomson photo taken circa 1921


William (Bill) Hamill Thomson is born.

Henry Best in Great western Cemetery.


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

Returned soldiers from WW1 circa 1918


The End of WW1. Photo of returned soldiers outside the Great Western Mechanics Institute building. Frederick William Fisher (far left), Fanny Best’s brother. Fanny was married to Charles Best.

1920 Frederick P Thomson signs the Contract of Sale, purchasing the Concongella Vineyard


Frederick P Thomson signs the Contract of Sale with Charles and Joseph Best (Henry Best’s sons), to purchase the Concongella Vineyard.

Best's Painted Roof


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.

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.


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

Misery Farm in Swan Hill renamed St Andrews.


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

Concongella Vineyard


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

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


Eric Vivian (Viv) Hamill Thomson born.

Metal lettering stencils used to name barrels.


Metal lettering stencils used to name barrels.

Flood at Concongella vineyard January in 1946


Flood at Concongella vineyard January in 1946.

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


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.


Working in the vineyard.

View from the historic underground cellar


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

Viv Thomson joins his family for his first vintage. John Hall and Robinson in the foreground.


Viv Thomson joins his family for his first vintage.

Ben Thomson, fifth generation.


Benjamin Hamill Thomson is born, fifth Thomson generation.

Hamish 'Bart' Thomson born.


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


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


Viv among the Concongella vines.

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


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


Image of Best’s Cellars

Chris Thomson in vines with snow.


Chris Thomson in vines with snow.

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


Simon Clayfield appointed winemaker at Best’s Wines.

Hermitage through to Bin No. 0 Shiraz.


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

Viv and Chris Thomson at Seppelts dinner with Ian McKenzie receiving certification for 100 years in wine Thomson Family


“Tradition, through technology, to triumph”
is how Viv Thomson sums up the first century. Viv and Chris Thomson celebrate Thomson family wine centenary in Great Western. Pictured with Ian McKenzie, chief winemaker Penfolds Group.


1992 Thomson Family Shiraz Magnum, Bottle.


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.


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

Michael Unwin appointed winemaker at Best's.


Michael Unwin appointed winemaker at Best’s Wines.

Hamish Seabrook appointed winemaker at Bests.


Hamish Seabrook appointed winemaker at Bests Wines.

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


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

Adam Wadewitz and his dog.


Adam Wadewitz appointed winemaker at Best’s Wines.

Google maps map of Great Western Geographic Indication


Great Western…  more than just a name.

Great Western is listed in the Australian register of protected names. Thanks to the tireless work of Chris Thomson and Bruce Dalkin (Westgate Vineyards) after years of negotiation and representation Great Western is now a registered Geographical Indication and wines produced from fruit grown within the Great Western G.I. can be labelled as such for both domestic and export sales.


Ben Thomson becomes MD


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

Justin Purser with Ben Thomson and Viv Thomson


Justin Purser is appointed winemaker at Best’s Wines.

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


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

Best's Team recreate historical image.


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

Photo of Best's Thomson Family Shiraz with branded wooden display box


Best’s Wines Great Western 2014 Thomson Family Shiraz wins James Halliday’s Wine of the Year.

The 'Nursery Block' Concongella Vineyard.


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


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.


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.


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

Ben, Viv and Hamish Thomson.


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


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


Ben Thomson holding a bottle of 2021 Foudre Ferment Riesling, winner of the 2023 Halliday Wine of the Year, Best White wine and Best Riesling


Best’s Great Western 2021 Foudre Ferment Riesling, winner of the 2023 Halliday Wine of the Year, Best White Wine of the Year and Best Riesling of the Year.

Jacob Parton sitting in front of Bests Cellar Door


Jacob Parton is appointed winemaker at Best’s Great Western


Stay in touch

We have a monthly newsletter, The Thomson Times, to help everyone stay connected. Sign up and keep up to date on upcoming wine releases and winery events. You don’t want to miss out!

We use cookies to optimize your experience, analyze traffic, and personalize content. To learn more, please visit our Privacy Policy. By using our site without disabling cookies, you consent to our use of them.

Verified by MonsterInsights