The story of Best's begins in 1866, when Henry Best purchases 30 hectares of land in Victoria's Great Western. It was a property named Concongella. With the first vines planted in 1867, 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 accliamed and enjoyed loved all over the world.
Since 1867, 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 forth 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 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 William and son 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 – Economic depression sees the sale of St Andrews Vineyard.
1930 – Thomson family purchases a vineyard at Swan Hill called Misery Farm – renaming it St Andrews in memory of the first vineyard.
1938 – Eric Vivian (Viv) Hamill Thomson is born, fourth Thomson generation.
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.
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.
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 Great Western 2011 Bin 1 Shiraz wins Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy at Royal Melbourne Wine Show.
2013 – Best’s Great Western 2011 Bin 1 Shiraz wins Fine Wine Partners Trophy for Australia’s Wine of the Year at Royal Sydney Wine Show.
2016 – Best’s Great Western 2014 Thomson Family Shiraz wins James Halliday’s Wine of the Year.