Our Stories

One
Vision,
Two
Hemispheres

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

Discovering Burgundy

Our Burgundy – PM’s love affair with Burgundy began when she drank her first Nuit Saint Georges wines in Singapore with her father in the 1970s. David’s first taste of Burgundy came while studying for a Masters in Law at Cambridge University in England in 1986. A tour of the college wine cellars instantly lit the Burgundy flame for him. When the couple met in Hong Kong in the late 1980s their mutual love of Burgundy was immediate common ground.

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.

The family rented an apartment above the winery of the Esmonin family in Clos Saint-Jacques, a legendary Premier Cru vineyard.

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.

Somewhere in the middle of these two weeks in Gevrey, PM and David signed the contract to buy the land at Lowburn in Central Otago. A curious coincidence as a year later they found and bought their French house, which was almost a ruin, and a new chapter began for the Hall-Jones family on the Côte.

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.

Claudio, PM and David at Les Evocelles
Claudio, David, and PM in Les Evocelles
St Aubin
Harvesting in St Aubin
David & PM in Les Evocelles
David and PM in Les Evocelles

John Turnbull Thomson

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.

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