Winemaking

THE VINEYARD AND VITICULTURE

The vineyard was purchased in 1994. The location was chosen after a long search for a block which could take advantage of the cooling breezes from the Southern Ocean, Indian Ocean and Geographe Bay and with ideal soils to support viticulture. The block is about 3km from the coast in the Wilyabrup Valley, known to produce some of the greatest wines in Australia. Although it was in an ideal location, it was a dairy cattle farm and had not been used for viticulture before. The soils were ideal, but deep drainage was required to make it ideal for viticulture.

The first plantings were in 1997 and 1998, consisting of chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon with Bordeaux blending varieties and pinot noir. A few years later, we added semillon, and in recent years have completed the vineyard planting programme with new clones of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.

Initial plantings were close spaced (1 metre intervine and 2.5 meter interrow), but more recent plantings are the more conventional 1.5 metres intervine. The trellising is vertical shoot positioning.

During the ripening phase, careful canopy management ensures ideal sun exposure. Harvesting is a combination of mechanical and hand whole bunch picking depending on the variety and timing of picking. The picking is decided not only on the ripeness as measured by baume (brix) levels, but also on detailed sensory analysis, picking at the peak of flavour development.

The combination of an ideal location, meticulous viticulture and sustainable practices together with close conversation between the viticulture and winemaking teams, consistently produces superior fruit for super premium winemaking.

THE WINERY AND WINEMAKING

From the start, Thompson Estate has had a different approach to winemaking. Even before we had our own winery, we had thought that there were risks in ensuring the necessary passion and attention to detail in outsourcing all the winemaking to a single contract winery.

So Peter applied what he calls his “medical specialty model” to the winemaking. By asking a recognized expert in each variety to take on the winemaking for a single variety, we were able to follow the model of bringing in the best expertise for each operation.

Because of Jane and Peter’s involvement in Pierro winery, we were able to identify the most talented winemakers for each variety, and as a result, some stunning wines were produced in our early vintages and we were rewarded with show and critical success. However, as each vintage came along, the challenge of monitoring the progress of multiple wines in multiple wineries and with multiple winemaking geniuses, became increasingly difficult.

So the arrival of Bob Cartwright in 2006 with over 30 years winemaking experience was fortuitous. Between 2006 and 2008, he gradually took on all the winemaking for Thompson Estate, and by 2008 we were in a position to build our own winery and have it ready for the 2009 vintage.

The opportunity to design a new winery with highly experienced input has allowed a series of innovations in workflow and tank design. The result is a visually appealing building, but more importantly, a compact and energy efficient winery capable of producing wine with a combination of traditional and the most modern methods of winemaking. This is an extension of the medical model, which is “if you cannot reach the standards required, build your own hospital”.

Aware that good wine is made in the winery, great wine is made in the vineyard, we maintain a regular conversation throughout the year between the viticulture and winery teams.

winery

winery
winery

winery