The history of Mount Pleasant goes hand in hand with the history of Modern Australian winemaking. Established in 1921 by legendary winemaker Maurice O’Shea, ours is a story of genuine pride, perfectionism and our very special place.
The Old Hill Vineyard is planted by Charles King on rich, volcanic soil with a number of varietals, including the Shiraz we still harvest to this day.
Our founder and legendary winemaker, Maurice O’Shea, is born in North Sydney.
Maurice O’Shea travels to France where he spent the next 6 years studying Viticulture and Oenology at France’s Montpellier University and Institute of Agronomique, Grignon, Paris. He would go on to lecture at Montpellier University before returning to Australia.
Maurice O’Shea – with his mother Léontine and brother Jack, purchase Old Hill vineyard and two adjoining parcels of land. O’Shea names the property Mount Pleasant and plants a new vineyard: Old Paddock.
O’Shea plants Mount Pleasant’s Mothervine Pinot Noir. Today it represents Australia’s oldest Pinot Noir vineyard.
O’Shea purchases land which would one day become the Lovedale vineyard. It is sequestered for the war effort by the Australian government and won’t be planted for another six years.
O’Shea purchases Rosehill vineyard.
Rosehill and Lovedale vineyards are planted.
The first vintage of Lovedale is released.
Maurice O’Shea passes away and is replaced as chief winemaker by Brian Walsh.
Rosehill vineyard is extended by Brian Walsh who maintains its commitment to Shiraz. Thanks to improvements in trellising, additional blocks are planted more closely together.
Phil Ryan is appointed Mount Pleasant Chief Winemaker.
The first Maurice O’Shea Shiraz was made to honour his legacy and released in 1990
The inaugural Maurice O’Shea awards is held in tribute to our founder.
The 2000 vintage of our flagship Maurice O’Shea Shiraz outscores Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace. It is honoured as the highest rated Shiraz in James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion.
Chief Winemaker Phil Ryan is awarded the Hunter Valley Living Legend award for his extraordinary services and contribution to the region and winemaking.
Phil Ryan retires and Jim Chatto is appointed Chief Winemaker.
Mount Pleasant is awarded winery of the year in the 2017 Halliday Wine Companion.
Adrian Sparks is appointed Chief Winemaker. He remains today only the fifth Chief Winemaker in our 100 year history.
Adrian Sparks is named the Hunter Valley Winemaker of the Year at the Hunter Valley Wine Industry Awards.
Devastating bushfires blanket the Hunter Valley with smoke.
Marks the celebration of our centenary.
Our flagship Maurice O’Shea Shiraz is awarded 99 points by world-renowned wine critic James Halliday.
Awarded number 3 in the Top 100 Australian Wineries by Halliday.
Maurice O’Shea was a man whose story and character is as compelling and transformative as the wines he produced. His contributions to Australian wine cannot be understated. As David Wynn, founder of Wynns Coonawarra Estate, once said “He (Maurice O’Shea) established the standards for the Australian wine industry.”
Working in a time before electricity and refrigeration, Maurice O’Shea’s dedication (and genius) established Mount Pleasant as the only top-quality wine in Australia and inspired the likes of Penfold’s Max Schubert, Hunter Valley legend Max Lake and countless others who would go on to make Australian wine what we recognise today.
It is because of this and so much more that Maurice O’Shea is recognised as a true icon of Australian wine and the founding father of Modern Australian winemaking.
Born the eldest son of John Augustus O’Shea and Léontine Francoise Beucher, one could argue that Maurice’s connection to wine was in the blood. His father an Irishman and the owner of New South Wales Wine and Spirit Company, had a formidable palate. Leontine, born and raised in France, knew the sophistication and quality of the ‘old world’. When his father passed away he was just 15 and by 16 Maurice was on a boat to France, carrying with him his mother’s hopes for the family’s future, “Maurice you are our balloon, our hope, we lift with you!”.
Having learned the conditions required to grow the best grapes in France, his ability to identify these sites and nurture them to their full potential, is perhaps his greatest legacy. Although remembering that there was no electricity, no refrigeration and only a horse and cart to work the vineyards, it is a testament to his skill, resilience and, what many have referred to as, his ‘fanatical perfectionism’ that saw him create wines that set the standard for Australian winemaking and came to define Mount Pleasant: wines of elegance, balance and exceptional longevity.
For those who knew him, Maurice was a man of great humour and generosity who never thought of himself as any more than a winemaker. But, as Campbell Mattinson put it, “the art of turning grapes to wine, for Maurice O’Shea, was not a recipe: it was a sea of possibilities, all pitched according to the notes his hands and nose and mouth could tell.”
In 1956, Maurice passed away with his beloved wife and daughter beside him and since that day it has been our proud undertaking to uphold his visionary legacy in everything that we do.
Our winemaking philosophy remains now as it was then. Today Adrian Sparks, as only the fifth Chief Winemaker in Mount Pleasant’s long history, upholds our commitment to expressing the beauty and individuality of our unique and historic vineyard sites.
Introducing Adrian Sparks
Chief Winemaker Adrian Sparks is a highly respected and awarded Australian winemaker who has always held a deep appreciation for the Hunter Valley and its extraordinary, unique terroir. With more than 25 years of experience and an innate appreciation for the winemaking’s interplay between art and science, he creates wines that illustrate a true sense of place.
In 2014 he joined the Mount Pleasant winemaking team and in 2018 was promoted to the position of Chief Winemaker. As only the fifth Chief Winemaker in Mount Pleasant’s long history, Adrian upholds our commitment to expressing the beauty and individuality of our unique and historic vineyard sites. Creating with every vintage, wines of longevity, elegance and balance, that capture an honest, true story of place and time long after they’ve been bottled.
“What we have here at our disposal are some of the greatest vineyards in the world. It is our role to take 12 months of what mother nature has provided, and transport it into a bottle, in the most perfect condition. Art and science combine, allowing this bottle to sit at your table, providing joy, discussion, history and a wonderful story.”
ADRIAN SPARKS, CHIEF WINEMAKER
The Lovedale site was selected in 1939 by legendary Mount Pleasant founder and winemaker Maurice O’Shea.
Planted in 1946, Rosehill was selected for its rich, volcanic loam soils, reflecting those found at Mount Pleasant.
The vines on Old Hill have seen three centuries and they are now as much a part of that land as the soil and earth.
When Maurice O’Shea purchased Mount Pleasant in 1921, he extended the land holding, planting Old Paddock.