Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW) has announced that Best’s Great Western and Clonakilla will join the prestigious group, elevating its membership to 12.

AFFW said the addition of the two wineries will further the strengthen the collective’s mission to celebrate and promote the excellence, heritage, and diversity of Australian wine around the world.

Strict criteria govern membership to this group, of which multi-generational succession is only the beginning. Also important are exceptional vineyard sites exemplifying the best of terroir as well as ‘iconic wines’ of lengthy pedigree. Environmental best practice and a long-term commitment to exporting their wines to the world are also paramount to the collective.

Best’s Great Western was established in 1866 and has been owned by the Thomson family since 1920. The winery is particularly renowned for its Shiraz and some of the world’s oldest pre-phylloxera vines, making it a true viticultural treasure.

Ben Thomson, Managing Director and fifth-generation family member said: “It’s an honour and privilege to join Australia’s First Families of Wine. As a fifth-generation family business, we value the unique perspective that a family business offers and look forward to further opportunities to share our best-kept secrets.

“The families involved represent wineries with similar values and a shared understanding of the landscape and opportunities which makes us stronger as a collective group.

“My dad, fourth generation Viv Thomson OAM is particularly chuffed to stand alongside so many friends and colleagues who have pioneered this industry over many decades and share a vision and commitment to making exceptional Australian wine. Times may be tough at present, but these families have a true love of the industry and respect for people in it.”

Clonakilla, founded by Irish research scientist John Kirk in 1971, has grown from a small family venture into one of Australia’s great family wineries. Located in the Canberra District, Clonakilla is celebrated for its Shiraz Viognier, a wine that has garnered numerous accolades and established the winery’s reputation for excellence.

John’s fourth son and current Chief Winemaker, Tim, said: “First Families of Wine’ is a powerful vision, highlighting a vital dimension of wine in Australia: the contribution of families! We are honoured to join such a brilliant community of passionate, like-minded wine families with a proven, multi-generational commitment to quality and innovation.”

Chester Osborn, the current AFFW Chairman, welcomed the new members, saying: “We are delighted to have Best’s Great Western and Clonakilla join AFFW. Both wineries exemplify the dedication to quality, heritage, and family values that define our group.

“Their inclusion not only strengthens our collective mission to promote and celebrate the rich diversity of Australian wine but also enhances the depth of our shared stories and experiences. As we navigate these challenging times, the history and authenticity of our member families become our most valuable assets, guiding us in preserving our extraordinary legacies and fostering resilience and innovation.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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