About Thompson Estate


Jane and Peter Thompson purchased the Thompson Estate property in 1994, and the first plantings of chardonnay and pinot were in 1997, followed by the cabernet plantings in 1998. New plantings include new Burgundian clones of chardonnay, a total of 20 hectares under vine.

From the outset at Thompson Estate, the focus has been on high quality wine production and this has been recognized in a large number of wine show medals and accolades from the wine press. The most treasured has been the recognition by James Halliday, Australia’s premier wine critic, that Thompson Estate is a Five Red Star winery, placing it in the top echelon of Australian wineries.

The original model of winemaking reflected Peter’s medical background and was based on the medical specialty model of choosing the best specialist to make each wine. Some of the early vintages were produced at the nearby Pierro winery since, from 1990 to 2008, the Thompsons were also part owners of Pierro.

This careful selection of specialist winemakers produced some stunning wines, but the management challenge of dealing with wine production in five different wineries became too complex, and a state of the art winery was designed and built on the property. The first vintage in the new winery was 2009.

The vineyard gains unique advantages from its Wilyabrup location. John Gladstones’ seminal work in the 1960’s showed that Margaret River had climatic features similar to the great years of Bordeaux. His predictions have been borne out and the Margaret River region is now recognized as one of the premium winegrape growing areas in the world. Wilyabrup has been identified on detailed meteorological studies to be an ideal location for the production of high quality wine.

Wilyabrup has the ideal number of sun exposure days per year for optimal ripening, and is surrounded by sea on three sides on the South West cape of Western Australia, allowing the cooling maritime breezes to keep the fruit cool and add intensity of flavours similar to the great years of the Bordeaux region of France. Thompson Estate and its immediate neighbours in Wilyabrup produce some of Australia’s “icon status” chardonnays and cabernets.

It is with some pride and fascination for Peter Thompson, a cardiologist, that Vasse Felix, the first vineyard in Margaret River, and Thompson Estate’s next door neighbor, was planted in Wilyabrup by Dr Tom Cullity, a cardiologist who was a mentor for Peter.

For The Heart

For more information on Wine and the Heart, see presentations by Peter Thompson in his role as Director of Research and Cardiologist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and Clinical Professor of Medicine and Population Health, The University of Western Australia


The controversy over wine and the heart continues. The J shaped curve
between alcohol consumption and total mortality is now well accepted.

The same relationship applies to heart disease.

The evidence that this is specific to wine intake is variable, but tends to
favour wine over other forms of alcohol.

The type of alcohol intake may affect the shape of the J shaped curve, tending to favour moderate wine intake over beer or spirits.

All this data is observational, and a trial has not been done to answer the question of whether wine is genuinely good for the heart or whether wine consumption is simply a reflection of a healthy lifestyle.

Until this is done, most authorities have concluded that a light to moderate intake of wine is beneficial.



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.


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.

Wine Making Process

Cellar Door

299 Tom Cullity Drive, Wilyabrup WA 6284
Western Australia, 6284


Phone Phone/Fax: +61 8 9755 6406
Fax Phone/Fax: +61 8 9755 6406




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