The Essence of Pinot Noir.
“When I drink our Pinot Noir I can imagine the glow of an explorer’s campfire, or the click and spark of horseshoes during my great-great-grandfather’s surveying expeditions in the south. I think of the goldminers, threatened by floods and harsh southern winters, who worked their claims in the Otago goldfields where so many fine wines are now produced. I think too of the orchardists, the first to fully harness Otago’s soils and sunshine, to grow cherries, peaches and apricots. For me, to drink our Pinot Noir is to experience the rich history of Central Otago.” – David Hall-Jones
In 2000 PM and David visited Gevrey-Chambertin for the first time, accompanied by a five-year-old child and a five-month-old baby.
Every morning PM would get up at daybreak to make a bottle for the baby, while watching the sun rise over the vines of the Clos and the Côte – a beautiful sight.
Every evening, the church bells rang at 6.00pm, their rich mellow tones rolling across the village and the vines as they have done for hundreds of years, marking the end of the day on the Côte and signalling to the vignerons it was time to lay down their tools and return home.
As they developed the Lowburn vineyard and the vines grew and matured, they also learnt about wine and vines on the other side of the globe, made friends and explored the Old World during summer holidays.
John Turnbull Thomson
New Zealand and Singapore
Our wine venture is named after David’s great-great-grandfather, John Turnbull Thomson, known as “Surveyor Thomson”. Thomson explored and mapped Central Otago in the 1850’s, naming many prominent landforms in the region, including Mt Aspiring, Mt Earnslaw and Lindis Pass. The beautiful mountains that overlook our vineyard in Central Otago – notably the Pisa Range and the St Bathans Range were also named by Thomson.
Indeed, there is a sense that in our Cellar Door and offices, Thomson is still watching over us today. He would surely enjoy a glass of Surveyor Thomson wine as a break from the simple fare of the province’s earliest explorers!
To those with a sharp eye, you will see that part of our corporate crest is an image of a theodolite.
This theodolite, and its wooden tripod, accompanied Thomson on each of his marathon surveys of southern New Zealand. With this instrument, Thomson produced the first maps of central Otago, some of which are on display for those who visit our Cellar Door, along with early paintings of Queenstown and Wanaka.
The Singapore Connection
Prior to his arrival in New Zealand, Thomson, as a young surveyor, went out to Penang and Singapore where he became Government Surveyor of Singapore in 1841. In addition to surveying and mapping early Singapore and parts of the eastern Malaysian Peninsula, Thomson went on to design and build a number of bridges, buildings and roads in Singapore.
Thomson Road, an arterial road in modern Singapore is named after him. Thomson also designed and contructed the famous Horsburgh Lighthouse which still stands today. He also found time to recored his experience of early colonial life in two books and to sample the local delicacy Durian!