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Domaine Thomson’s Prestigious Cellar Door in Cromwell

One vision two hemispheres is the philosophy behind Domaine Thomson wines which is arguably the only winery in the world offering both French and New Zealand vintages from its Central Otago cellar door.

David and PM Hall-Jones who own the Domaine Thomson vineyards in both Central Otago and Burgundy began their wine adventure in 2000 when they purchased their Lowburn site, becoming one of the first vineyards in the region to plant Pinot Noir grapes.

The couple lived in Hong Kong for many years and PM, Singaporean by birth, had always had an interest in wine because of her father’s enthusiasm particularly for burgundy, and she pinpointed Central Otago as the ideal place for their New Zealand vineyard.

PM and David Hall-Jones

The 14-hectare fully certified organic vineyard site beneath the Pisa range has special meaning for David whose great-great- grandfather John Turnbull Thomson surveyed and named the Pisa and other local landmarks including Mt Aspiring and St Bathans.

“He explored most of Otago and Southland in the 1850s and didn’t ever name anything after himself as so many pioneers did. It has so much meaning for us to grow grapes in full view of the mountains he surveyed and we named the vineyard out of respect for him and his work.”

The Hall-Jones’ passion for Central Otago is matched only by their passion for Burgundy and after purchasing a house in the region in 2001 they acquired a small parcel of 80-year-old Chardonnay vines in Gevrey-Chambertin some 12 years later. Five years on they expanded their French portfolio to include both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines.

“For good Pinot Noir you need cold nights and cool mornings and around the world there is a narrow band within certain latitudes that the variety grows well which includes our French vineyard at 47 degrees north and Central Otago at 45 degrees south,” says PM.

David and PM live half the year in Wānaka and the other half in Burgundy and are hands-on at their vineyards with the distinctive Domaine Thomson crest featuring the kiwi and the coq on both their New Zealand and French wine labels symbolising their commitment to the two hemisphere venture.

The French Central Otago Connection

Domaine Thomson’s cellar door at Lowburn near Cromwell provides both Central Otago and French wine tastings in a purpose built, architecturally designed woolshed style building reminiscent of the region’s humble 19th century structures.

White wines from the Domaine Thomson vineyards in Burgundy and superb Pinot Noir varieties including Explorer and the flagship Surveyor wines grown in Central Otago showcase labels that, according to owners David and PM Hall-Jones, “have a sense of place, expressing the individual terroirs of each region”.

“We encourage wine lovers, self-drive tourists and bespoke wine tours to visit our cellar door and experience not only our high quality New Zealand and French wines but also the rustic, yet refined building with its old world interior French references, such as chandeliers and herringbone flooring, which merge seamlessly with the historic nature of the building.”

The cellar door which incorporates an elegant gallery room and library also highlights the strong connection between Domaine Thomson and early surveyor John Turnbull Thomson.

“While my great-great grandfather was a renowned surveyor he was also a prominent artist,” says David, “and we have chosen to display many of his fascinating, maps, sketches and paintings in the cellar door which create a lot of interest.”

Visitors to Domaine Thomson’s cellar door are encouraged to undertake a private tasting of their signature Central Otago and Burgundian wine selection accompanied by a cheese platter of both New Zealand and French cheeses.