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.