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South Australia
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Reinventing, experimenting and improvising are at the core of Thistledown’s unconventional approach to world-class Grenache. 

We harness the energy from South Australia’s iconic vineyard sites in McLaren Vale & the Barossa Valley to produce small batches of hand-crafted, textural Grenache of world-class quality. 

We source our fruit from many of the best sites in the iconic regions of South Australia. We work closely with growers who, like us, want to see the character of their vineyard as faithfully portrayed in the bottle as possible. Over a period of time, we have gained access to sites that we only dreamed of in the early days, and feel privileged to be able to craft wines from Australia’s viticultural history. 

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From our base in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, we are set up perfectly to deal with the multitude of small batches that we receive. We are always experimenting and trialing and work on the basis that if we haven't made one mistake each vintage, we haven't been trying hard enough! Conventional wisdom is to be respected but challenged at every turn, and it's fair to say that when we challenge the traditional, we succeed. Our approach to winemaking is simple. We work with great sites, so our job is to coax that fruit into the bottle, retaining as much energy and personality as possible. Low yielding sites, hand-picked a little earlier, are where it begins. In the winery, the small batches are allowed to ferment spontaneously. We use minimal extraction, love concrete fermenters and enjoy the detail that oak can bring, but not the dominating flavor. Thistledown's unique blend of unrivaled fruit sources and the experience of both the New and the Old Worlds, lent by our 2 Master of Wine, helps craft a wine of subtlety, texture, and detail – wines that surprise and delight at every turn.

Our People

Giles & Fergal met in a bar the night before they began the first year of the Master of Wine course – that was 1998. Both subsequently passed the exam and eventually came to work together, founding Thistledown in 2010, with the first proper vintage being the inauspicious 2011.

Both share a degree in history, a love of Australian wine, and the cause of the underdog. Both also shared a frustration that, in many markets, Australian wine was stereotyped as big, alcoholic, and unsuited to excellent restaurants. Both knew that this didn't have to be the case and set upon a journey to create wines of elegance, detail, and balance.

Giles Cooke MW - Founder and Winemaker The driving force behind Thistledown, Giles, has traveled the world buying wine, consulting on packaging, and winemaking. Although his first love is Spain, something has always drawn him back to Australia, where much of his early travel in the wine trade was done.

Splitting his time between Australia and the UK, Giles has his hands in most of the pies. Working with all the growers, running harvest, creating winemaking specs, and packaging, he is not one to rest easily! Nor has he been one to accept received wisdom unquestioningly.

A restless curiosity, a touch of synaesthesia, and dogged determination have supported Giles' journey through Australian wine

Fergal Tynan MW - Founder Having kissed the blarney stone at an early age, Fergal's trajectory through wine has been hard and fast with extensive travel throughout Europe, South America, and Australia. He is CEO of UK-based Alliance Wine Co. Like Giles, he has had regular, long exposures to Australian wine, which have given him an enduring love for the wines, people, and regions that make Australia such a wonderful country in which to make wine.

Fergal's disarming bonhomie belies a sharp mind, packed full of detailed knowledge on a surprising range of topics, not least an encyclopedic knowledge of Australian wine from day one to now.

Peter Leske - Winemaking Consultant Peter is a well-known face in Australian wine, having had a high profile career working for the likes of Nepenthe, Grosset, and Domaine Dujac in Burgundy. In 2012, Pete bought back the old Nepenthe winery in Lenswood, Adelaide Hills, and re-named it Revenir. Well equipped with all the toys needed to make brilliant small-batch wine, this is the home for Thistledown and where Pete is full-time.

A brilliant winemaker, capable of juggling all manner of issues at harvest time and an all-round good egg, Pete provides the wisdom borne of experience.