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O’Shea Award Returns Under New Format

By Wednesday 11 May 2022September 28th, 2023No Comments

The prestigious Maurice O’Shea Award will return this year under the new Australian Wine Industry Awards event, in partnership with McWilliam’s Wines and Mount Pleasant Wines.

The new awards will be presented at an exclusive event in Adelaide on Sunday 26 June ahead of the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference taking place that same week.

Founded in 1990 by the McWilliam family, the triennial awards ceremony commemorates and pays homage to Mount Pleasant’s legendary, Maurice O’Shea.

This significant industry award recognises an individual, group or organisation for their incredible service or contribution to the industry through winemaking, cultivation, innovation and technology.

Following the change of ownership to both Mount Pleasant and McWilliam’s Wines in 2021 by the Medich Family Office and Calabria Family Wine Group respectively, the two felt passionate about working together to honour these distinguished awards and bring this important industry program into a new era.

“Maurice O’Shea was a man who devoted his efforts to the craft of making great Australian wine. The Maurice O’Shea Award is to honour and recognise a group or individual that has made a significant contribution to the industry by forging new pathways in their efforts to strive for excellence and greaten the industry as a whole,” chief winemaker for Mount Pleasant Wines, Adrian Sparks, says.

“Mount Pleasant is proud to honour Maurice O’Shea and his enduring legacy to the Australian wine industry by presenting this award in collaboration with the Calabria family.”

In addition to the Maurice O’Shea Award, the new McWilliam’s Award for Excellence in Action will also be presented on the night to an individual, group or organisation that has made a significant impact in the face of the numerous challenges currently facing the Australian wine industry.

“While the iconic Maurice O’Shea Award celebrates the significant contribution of a group or individual to the industry, we’ve created the McWilliam’s Award for Excellence in Action to focus on the many challenges facing the wine industry – challenges like climate change, diversity and equality, and international market access – and the important people or industry bodies that have tackled these obstacles head-on for the betterment of our industry,” third-generation Sales & Marketing director for Calabria Family Wine Group, Andrew Calabria, says.

“McWilliam’s Wines has had its fair share of challenges in its 143-year history, but the family’s perseverance and commitment to the industry are what, to me, stand out over those many years and we felt this new distinction was an important way to honour that.”

Under the new partnership, Mount Pleasant and McWilliam’s have called upon leaders across the Australian wine industry to join an exclusive judging committee to confer and nominate potential winners of both awards. The selected judges include industry body leaders, journalists, winemakers and representatives from Mount Pleasant, McWilliam’s Wines and Calabria Family Wines.

“The conferral process aims to ensure the two awards remain true to Maurice O’Shea’s reputation as the highest honour afforded to a member of the wine industry. We are excited to bring together this selection of respected and experienced wine professionals to nominate the finest candidates for these awards,” Sparks says.

The inaugural judges of the Australian Wine Industry Awards are:

Phil Ryan, ambassador, Mount Pleasant Wines.
Campbell Mattinson, independent wine journalist.
Louisa Rose, Head of Winemaking, Yalumba and Hills Smith Family Vineyards.
Bill Calabria AM, director and winemaker, Calabria Family Wine Group.
Mark Krstic, managing director, Australian Wine Research Institute.
Tony Battaglene, chief executive, Australian Grape & Wine.
Jane Faulkner, independent wine journalist.
Doug McWilliam, past chairman, McWilliam’s Wines and fifth generation industry family member.

Maurice O’Shea was the eldest child of the Irish John Augustus O’Shea and the French-born Léontine Francoise Beucher. When his father passed away, it was Léontine who arranged her eldest son’s trip to France in 1914 at the age of 17.

It was in 1921 that O’Shea, having just returned from France, persuaded his mother to purchase a 16.3-hectare property on the rich volcanic soils in the Parish of Pokolbin, in the Hunter Valley.

Maurice O’Shea’s blending techniques and sophisticated use of oak – talents learnt while studying oenology at France’s Montpellier University – were credited with producing red table wines of enormous flavour, intensity and longevity.

The McWilliam family, led by Keith McWilliam, recognised the talent and potential of this great winemaker. In 1932 they joined forces with Maurice O’Shea by purchasing 50 per cent of the winery, acquiring the remaining share in 1941.

In 1956, aged 59, Maurice passed away surrounded by both Marcia and his daughter, Simone. Initiated in 1990, the biennial McWilliam’s Maurice O’Shea Award commemorates and pays homage to the legendary Maurice O’Shea.

Past winners of the Maurice O’Shea:

Robert Hill-Smith (2019)
The Len Evans Tutorial (2016)
Dr Peter Dry (2014)
The Australian Screwcap Initiative (2012) Philip Laffer AM (2010)
Dr John Gladstones (2008)
The Late Dr Ray Beckwith OAM (2006)
The Late Guenter Prass AM (2004)
The Australian Wine Research Institute (2002)
Dr Wolf Blass AM (2000)
The Late Dr Bryce Rankine AM (1998)
Brian Croser AO (1997)
The Late Hazel Murphy AM (1996)
James Halliday AM (1995)
The Jacob’s Creek Brand (1994)
The Late David Wynn AO (1993)
The Late Ron Potter OAM (1992)
The Late Len Evans OBE AO (1991)
The Late Max Schubert AM (1990)

Further reading

Pam Dunsford Wins Maurice O’Shea Award

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