Grape to Glass: Domaine-Thomson


“It was fascinating to be involved in a growing, pioneering industry, and it was not long after that I decided to leave the hospitality industry to focus on wines.”

Claudio Heye began learning classic wines when studying Hotel Management in Switzerland. Upon moving to Queenstown in the mid-1990s, Heye was fascinated by the Central Otago wine industry and everything it had to offer. Though he is not a winemaker, Heye enjoys the vineyard, harvest season, and every challenge that comes with it.

Established in 2000, Domaine-Thomson was born with a vision of being a specialist in pinot noir. Founders PM and David Hall-Jones came together with a passion for the flavours wine offers and the stories it creates.Claudio Heye

Domain-Thomson has been certified organic through BioGro since 2017, and their organic practices began as early as 2010. The 14-ha vineyard in Lowburn first planted 100 percent pinot noir grapes. However, the vineyard has grown since then, adding a small block of Chardonnay.

The business also offers five small parcels of vines in Burgundy; three of pinot noir in Gevrey-Chambertin, Mercury, and Mellecey; and two of chardonnay in Saint-Aubin and La Rochepot.

“The aim is to mark site-specific wines, letting the terroir of each parcel come through. A lot of attention is paid to the viticulture work around the vineyard and being certified organic,” Heye explained.

panoramic view vineyard

Domaine-Thomson exports to seven different markets, although they sell about 75 percent of their wines in the domestic New Zealand market. Having an internationally recognised brand expands opportunities for Heye and his team.

One of the greatest challenges they have faced so far was Covid which made sales suffer. In selling large proportions of their produce to the local Queenstown market, they were thankful for the support from hospitality operators by which they continue to foster long-term relationships.

Looking onward, Heye and the team are toying around with a new project, hoping to release it by summer.