Emily Grace Hamill: Her Inspiring Legacy
The inaugural Best’s Great Western Hamill Shiraz is a proud nod to our much-loved Thomson family matriarch, Emily Grace Hamill. She was a strong-willed and determined woman whose legacy lives on as a special tribute in her memory.
We often reflect on the many people who have contributed to Best’s Great Western and helped to make it the winery that it is today. We love it when a new wine is added to our collection as it allows us to celebrate them and put their story in the spotlight. Our Hamill Shiraz does just that. Not only are we immortalising our much-loved matriarch Emily Hamill through this namesake release, but we’re also thrilled to mark her legacy with such an outstanding wine.
Here, we tell her story.
The Inspirational Tale of Emily Grace
When we set about crafting the inaugural premium shiraz from our new Sugarloaf Vineyard we knew we were on to something special. A slightly different style to the rest of our Best’s range, given that the terroir is distinctive but stays true to the Grampians wine region. And so, a wine of this calibre deserved to honour someone integral to the Thomson family and the evolution of Best’s: Emily Grace Hamill (1875-1934), Managing Director Ben Thomson’s great grandmother.
Originally from Geelong, Emily’s connection to the family goes back almost 120 years, when she married Frederick Thomson in 1906. Having bought his father’s established vineyards in Great Western Victoria in 1900, Frederick grew and made wine in the region. But it was with Emily’s drive and support that Frederick acquired the nearby Concongella Vineyard from pioneering vigneron Henry Best in 1920. That site is, of course, Best’s Wines today. With the original vines dating back to the 1860s, the Thomson family are proud custodians of some of the oldest and rarest pre-phylloxera plantings in the world – thanks to the shared vision of Emily and Frederick.
By all accounts, Emily was a petite woman with a calm nature who was always ready to listen and offer advice. Within 10 years of marrying Frederick, the couple had seven children, and after buying Concongella, the family moved into the homestead on the property. This saw their younger children switch from attending Ararat Primary School to Great Western Primary School, and there are family stories about the children riding bareback to and from school. A true local community even then!
Since their union, the Hamill name has since been kept alive through the generations, with Emily and Frederick naming one of their sons Frederick Hamill Thomson, better known as Eric – Viv Thomson’s father. It’s then been passed down as a name to the oldest child ever since. Viv’s full name is Eric Vivian Hamill Thomson, while Viv’s son Ben is Benjamin Hamill Thomson. This family tradition of sharing a middle name is an ongoing nod to Emily, but the exceptional Best’s Great Western Hamill Shiraz now puts the Hamill name front and centre.
This is a deliciously complex wine made from only the best blocks of the Sugarloaf Vineyard. Whole-bunch spice, berry flavours and fleshy red-fruit characters mingle with spice, fruit and chewy chocolate tannins, setting the bar very high for vintages to come.
Today, visitors to the cellar door can hear these family stories and take in the memorabilia around the winery, including the Hamill family bible, published in 1814.
Inside, there is even a drawing of a very young Emily that must have been made in the late 1870s. These are just some ways we love to celebrate our ancestors and their important legacies here at Best’s Wines and share them with our club members, subscribers and visitors.
To taste the latest vintage of Hamill Shiraz click here
Learn more about:
- The release of the new Hamill Shiraz
- Our acquisition of the Sugarloaf Vineyard
- The timeline of Best’s Great Western