Q&A with winemaker Paul Dixon from Thompson Estate
Winemaker Paul Dixon has been with Thompson Estate for eight years and spent 28 years all together in the industry. Paul's impressive profile includes many accolades with the most prestigious being 5 red stars from James Halliday and his wines rated over 95 points for 10 consecutive years. His love of the outdoors and passion for winemaking certainly reflects in The Thompson Estate collections.
Where did you study to be a winemaker?
After working in the industry for a number of years I studied winemaking through Charles Sturt University while juggling full-time work and helping to raise two young children. It was a very intense time but very rewarding at the end.
What drew you to the Margaret River region?
I grew up in the area with this amazing region at the doorstep, it never crossed my mind to go anywhere else!
What is your most memorable wine consumed in the last 6 months?
To be honest, I don’t drink much during the vintage period but I did have a Morris Rare Liqueur Muscat that a good mate from Uni gave to me just before Christmas, these wines don’t get appreciated enough.
If you could only drink one varietal which would it be, and from which region?
Easy! Chardonnay from Margaret River, there are some really cracking Chardonnays out there. But in saying that, I am also a sucker for German Rieslings. If there is a German Riesling on a table with a hundred different wines, the Riesling would be the first bottle I would go for.
What is your favourite Thompson Estate wine?
It would have to be the 2014 Specialist Cabernet for many different reasons. Not only is this an awesome wine but I feel that this is the first wine that I am super proud of. I would not have a problem showing it against any other super premium Cabernets from across the country.
What is your personal best vintage at Thompson Estate that you were most proud of?
Such a hard question, it is almost like saying “who is your favourite child”. I would have to say 2014 or 2016 for reds and 2018 or 2019 for whites.
What is your story and how did your passion start out in the wine industry?
My passion for the wine industry started in 1992 where, fresh out of technical school as a fitter and turner, was not sure of what direction to take in life. After spending the hot summer months in a pair of overalls, staring at a corrugated tin wall while making pulleys for a local company, I thought “there must be something better out there”.
After very little convincing, a relative suggested to help the fruit harvest for some of the local vineyards in Margaret River grape picking, this included Cullens, Moss Wood, Happs, Ashbrook and Moss Brothers to name a few. The love of being outside working in the agricultural industry, the excitement of harvest and the interest in the whole winemaking process soon turned to passion as the Moss Brothers took me under their wing, teaching me everything they knew. This included all aspects of the industry from the vineyard, the winery, to the bottle and everything in-between.
How did you know winemaking was the career you wanted to pursue?
During the 13 years spent at this company, it was clear that the love of winemaking was the direction that I wanted pursue and therefore enrolled and completed the six year correspondence winemaking course, Bachelor of Applied Science (wine science), in Wagga Wagga through Charles Sturt University. The hunger for knowledge and the quest for winemaking excellence led to the departure from the Moss Brothers in 2005 to the prestigiou Vasse Felix to learn from some of the best winemakers in the region, if not the world.
The seven years of knowledge and experience gained at this reputable winery pushed my passion for making super premium wine further, leading to the prominent Thompson Estate, renowned for their premium fruit, specializing in Chardonnay, Cabernet and Bordeaux blends. With Peter Thompson, cardiologist and owner of Thompson Estate, having such passion for the industry, super premium wine and education, this was a perfect place for me to further spread my wings and grow.
I have now been with Thompson Estate for eight years and with the full support of the Thompsons been able to obtain valuable knowledge from winemakers from all over Australia through judging at local and national wine shows. This show judging experience has reflected back to the winery where we continue to make super premium wine with nationally and international recognized accolades.
What are the conditions like in the vineyard at this time of year?
We are just starting to get some good rainfall to replenish the dams. We are currently discing the mid-rows of the vineyard ready to put in our cover crop to improve soil fertility.
What’s shaping up to be the pick of the crop, for the V20?
Both the Chardonnay and Cabernet are looking spectacular, especially the premium batches.