Best’s Wines Joins Australia’s First Families of Wine

Pictured: Hamish Thomson, Ben Thomson, Chris and Viv Thomson in Best’s historic Nursery Block, planted in 1868

Australia’s First Families of Wine represents the heart and soul of Australian Wine and we’re delighted to announce that as of May 2024, Best’s will become a member of the family. In 2009, several of Australia’s oldest family-owned, multi-generational wine businesses joined to form Australia’s First Families of Wine. A unique collaboration of like-minded families, the intention was to change the narrative about the history, provenance and quality of Australian premium wine, telling the stories behind these families that form the golden thread that connects them.

Since then, Australia’s First Families of Wine has travelled the globe as a collective to share their vinous tales; tales of tribulation and success, experience and commitment. A new chapter emerges, with Best’s Wines Great Western and Clonakilla Wines (Canberra) joining the prestigious group in May 2024.

Best’s Managing Director Ben Thomson noted:

“It’s an honour and privilege to join Australia’s First Families of Wine. As a fifth-generation family business, we value the unique perspective that a family business offers and look forward to further opportunities to share our stories. The families involved represent wineries with similar values and a shared understanding of the landscape and opportunities, which makes us stronger as a collective group. For several decades, we’ve been friends and colleagues, and now the time is right for us to join and stand alongside fellow vintners who have such respect for their craft.

We may be a small player by comparison, but we share a commitment to quality winemaking with some of the oldest pre-phylloxera vines in the world. We are excited to have our family stories and wines shared more broadly, bringing the unique style of Great Western wines, with a focus on shiraz, to a greater audience.

My dad, fourth generation Viv Thomson OAM is particularly chuffed to stand alongside so many friends and colleagues who have pioneered this industry over many decades and share a vision and commitment to making exceptional Australian wine. Times may be tough at present, but these families have a true love of the industry and respect for people in it.”

Chester Osborn, Chairman of AFFW and CEO of d’Arenberg says: “We are delighted to have Best’s and Clonakilla join AFFW. Both wineries exemplify the dedication to quality, heritage and family values that define our group. Their inclusion not only strengthens our collective mission to promote and celebrate the rich diversity of Australian wine but also enhances the depth of our shared stories and experiences. As we navigate these challenging times, the history and authenticity of our member families become our most valuable assets, guiding us in preserving our extraordinary legacies and fostering resilience and innovation.”

What Australian wine families are involved?

Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW) represents twelve families across eleven historic regions. Wineries include:

• Best’s Wines (Great Western)
Brown Brothers (King Valley)
Campbells (Rutherglen)
Clonakilla (Canberra)
D’Arenberg (McLaren Vale)
Henschke (Eden Valley)
Howard Park (Margaret River)
Jim Barry (Clare Valley)
Tahbilk (Nagambie Lakes)
Taylors (Clare Valley)
Tyrrell’s Wines (Hunter Valley)
Yalumba (Eden Valley)

The concept is based on a similar initiative launched nearly 20 years ago when a group of Europe’s leading family wineries formed an association called Primum Familiae Vini  and replicated a few years ago in New Zealand with its Family of Twelve.

Self funded, the group has driven the messages of quality and provenance of premium Australian wine, sharing stories and anecdotes as custodians of some of the most iconic vineyards in Australia. With over 48 generations and 1310 years of collective winemaking experience, AFFW is well placed to claim the ownership of the ‘family’ mantle. With wines made with a true sense of place and with a genuine history full of passion, innovation, and provenance. By sharing their family stories and promoting the quality and provenance of premium Australian wine, AFFW enhances perceptions and reinforces the premium image of Australian wine globally.

What does this mean for Best’s Great Western?

Now is the time to come together as an industry. Australian wine has a wonderful fabric weaved with family owned and operated businesses at the core. The challenging times that we currently face mean that we need to work together to weather the storms and continue to advocate for our incredible wines being made Down Under. Viv Thomson notes, “It’s these families who often have a mutual love and respect for the industry, they are in it for the long haul, and together, we’ve weathered many storms and cycles. We have a lot in common and a great respect for the people in it.”

It’s also a great opportunity for the next generation to have like-minded peers to learn from. Whilst the sixth generation of our business is still young and travelling, to have a group to learn from if they choose to join the family business is such wonderful learning.

Ben Thomson noted that the only thing you can trust in life is change and if we can weather this current storm together, we will come out brighter the other side.

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