Who is Domaine Thomson Wines?
We are a tight knit team based in the Cromwell Basin of Central Otago – the prime ‘fruit bowl’ of New Zealand, growing some of the world’s best pinot noirs. We are a diverse and committed bunch – owners David and PM Hall-Jones live in Hong Kong although David was born and bred in Invercargill and PM was originally from Singapore. Claudio, who manages the Trade and Export sales, is from Brazil but was born in the US, and Simon, our Vineyard Manager, is also from Invercargill but came into the wine world via Papua New Guinea and Alexandra. Dean Shaw of the Central Otago Wine Company makes our wine and has done since our fist vintage in 2003. We have a very level, open style of policy and management with the common focus of delivering the best wines we can to our customers here and around the world.
We have been known to have a bit of fun along the way too…
Who are you?
My name is Kate Barnett and I am the Operations and Cellar Door Manager. I have worked within the wine industry for over 25 years, beginning with my family’s establishment of Felton Road in the early 1990’s. I worked with the team at Mt Difficulty to establish their new Cellar Door in the early 2000’s and have now been with Domaine Thomson for nearly 10 years. I have toiled in all aspects of the Central Otago wine industry and couldn’t think of anywhere I would rather be than right here, right now – exciting times ahead!
Where are the new Cellar Door and Wine Tasting Facilities?
The new buildings sit beneath the Pisa Range at our organically certified 14ha pinot noir vineyard at 46 Clark Road, opposite Pisa Moorings. We’re about 10 mins North of Cromwell township, heading towards Wanaka, on the left, up Clark Road. That positions us around 25 mins from Wanaka and 55 mins from Queenstown. The buildings are nestled within the vineyard itself with a beautiful outlook over the vines and Lake Dunstan – this means we are within the working vineyard environment and access is by gravel road (i.e. Lamborghini’s and Campervans may struggle… we can always pick you up from the bottom of our driveway!)
When do you open?
We are open now – seven days a week, 11am to 5pm.
What will the hours be?
Everyday, all year round 11am – 5pm. (apart from statutory requirement days)
What was the inspiration behind the buildings design?
Two-fold – the vineyard is named after David’s great-great Grandfather, (Surveyor) John Turnbull Thomson, who was an amazing man. Thomson explored and mapped Otago and Southland in the 1850’s. The outside look and feel of the buildings are a ‘nod’ to him and what early alpine huts looked like in the high country of southern NZ. The interiors of the buildings are quite different and simply breath taking – PM has wonderful style and taste and some of the finishes are simple but exquisite …. let’s just say if Thomson had stayed in huts like this in the old days, he would never have left the building!
Who were your partners along the way?
These facilities have been a dream of the Domaine Thomson team for a long time and a select few of very special folk have been invaluable in the completion of this project. Conceptual Architect, Noel Lane of Auckland, drove the backroads of Otago and Southland with his fishing buddy David, to visualise the final feel and position of the buildings. Noel’s associate, Tom Rowe of RB Architecture Studios in Auckland then lead the way on the construction plans. The family owned, well established construction company Breen of Alexandra, completed the build for us to such a high standard of workmanship and custodianship that these buildings will remain a legacy for generations to come. A special thank you to Rene Dons, Site Manager, and Ross McCulloch, Project Manager and their entire team for their patience, attention to detail and skills. CromDig, contractors in Cromwell, were equally amazing in helping Kate with the landscaping and earthworks around the property – thanks Matt, Jono, Anthony, Steve and Jack.
The various contractors and trade providers have all reinforced our own company vision of “If you do something, do it once and do it well”. We thank them for their commitment and quality of work – it is a rare but proud position to be able to say we completed this project within time and within budget so well done to all.
What is available to visitors?
An experience they will never forget! A history lesson, a compost lecture or a French class perhaps….
We will welcome visitors from near and far, for wine tastings and a genuine Central Otago vineyard experience. The buildings and surrounds are worthy of a trip alone but we will be offering our organically produced Central pinot noirs for tasting and perhaps the occasional wine from further afield. We are so looking forward to sharing our stories, our craft and our wines with you all.
What makes Domaine Thomson different?
People, places and pinot noirs… we are all about connecting lands through our history and our wines.
We are a committed, certified organic wine producer who follow the Steiner bio-dynamic principles over our entire 23ha property. Our Viticulturist (and NZ 2019 Young Horticulturist of the Year) Simon Gourley loves nothing more than converting visitors to the ‘old’ way of living including managing the free run hens and highland cows. If he is not too busy chasing said animals around the hills, he would love to welcome new and old friends alike.
Like our organic principles, we honour our history to give legacy to the future. JT Thomson was quite an extraordinary man and we are all still amazed at tales of his adventures (and the fact he had 9 daughters!) We have examples of his early paintings and maps throughout the buildings and are very happy to regale the historical side of things to any history buffs amongst our guests.
Perhaps our most intriguing and exotic point of difference, is the collection of our wines from Burgundy. We think David could be the only New Zealander to own vines there and it is a great testament to their commitment and passion for wines. PM fell in love with Burgundy on trips with her family when she was young, and David quickly followed in sharing her joy of the region. In 2000 they purchased an old run-down barn in Gevrey-Chambertin and the rest they say is history. Further purchases in 2018 broadened the portfolio for Domaine Thomson in Burgundy, with the acquisition of additional vines in the village of Saint Aubin and in Mercurey. While quantities are small and highly sort after by our wine club members, we will endeavour to share tastings with guests when we are able.
What aspect of the new build are you enjoying the most?
The management team have had an office in the industrial area of Cromwell for about 8 years and it is such a delight to have relocated to the vineyard. It is a very special spot and I am loving welcoming everyone here. Over the Christmas break we completed the landscaping for opening and I am so thrilled with how it all looks. PM has an excellent knowledge of plants and we worked closely to achieve the look and practicality we were after. It really is quite beautiful.
We will have only wine tastings available initially, as in accordance with our off-license, although we have put in kitchen facilities so maybe one day, we will provide food and events – I would love to see people enjoying our wines, landscapes, views and stories on a hot, leisurely summers afternoon in our gardens or in the library, in front of the roaring fire in the midst of Central Otago winters between ski days…. Watch this space!
For more information, please contact Kate on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 027 220 8441.