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bests-vineyard.jpgGets my vote as perhaps the most extraordinary viticultural resource in all of the country, with their two plots of vines dating back to the 1860s.  One, the Thomson Block, dates from 1868 and is the single source of perhaps this country's least recognise icon wines, the Thomson Family Shiraz.  The other, the incredible 'Nursery Block', planted in 1867, contains some 40-odd different grape varieties, some of which have never been identified and likely exist nowhere else in the whole world. it is assumed, but not certain, that these plantings all come from the Busby Collection.  Given the extreme old-age of the vines, some are now dying (especially since the terrible drought of the late 1990s and early 2000s) and in the past few years, cuttings are being taken from each variety and new rootlings cultivated in another block, maintaining the genetic material.  The urgency and importance of this is underscored by the fact now only a single Gamay vine remains (although there are now three cuttings that have struck).

Bests covers some 40 hectares of vineyards now, at the original site, as well as two other nearby properties (Rimmey and Single Hill), and whilst Shiraz is by far the most important variety, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier are all well represented, and countless curios are also produced (although not commercially released).bests-cellars.jpg

The ancient cellars were excavated by out-of-work miners once the gold ran out, and the pick marks are still evident on the roof and walls.  Winemaking is quite traditional, although the winery has all the modern niceties one would expect and hope for.

The Thomson family purchased Bests in 1920, and the fifth generation, lead by Ben Thomson, have now all but taken charge from the legendary Viv, one of the modern doyens of the industry.  Having grown up and lived this special place all his life, this latest generational transition ensures Bests remains in the very best of hands (pardon the pun) and that the unique history and resource is both maintained and respected.

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