At Mount Pleasant, we watch over some of Australia’s most historic and precious vineyards. Founded in 1921 by the legendary Maurice O’Shea, whose contribution to Australian wine cannot be understated. Widely recognised for setting the standard for modern Australian winemaking, his ‘fanatical perfectionism’ saw him create Mount Pleasant’s signature style of elegance, balance and exceptional longevity.
For 100 years, Mount Pleasant has produced iconic, elegant and expressive wines championing the fruit and individual character of our four vineyard sites. Our rare ancestral vines include some of the oldest clone plantings in the country. This makes our Old Hill vineyard, while best known for Shiraz, the oldest Pinot Noir vineyard in Australia.
Mount Pleasant wines let you discover the unique Hunter Valley signature: wines with an ‘old world’ elegance and exceptional balance.
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.
Our vineyards stretch back to the very birth of the Hunter Valley as a premium wine growing region, planted by Charles King in 1880 and worked on by legendary winemaker and Mount Pleasant founder, Maurice O’Shea.
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.