McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Estate nestled in the slopes of the Brokenback Range in the Hunter Valley was established in 1921 by legendary winemaker, Maurice O’Shea
The Griffith-based McWilliam family, already a famous Australian wine company, purchased a half share of the Estate and encouraged O’Shea to continue with his winemaking style and creations. McWilliam’s acquired the remaining share in 1941. It was with the McWilliam family’s financial backing O’Shea selected and purchased the Lovedale and Rosehill properties and planted them in 1946. O’Shea’s groundbreaking work has been kept alive by revered winemakers Brian Walsh and Phil Ryan. The fact that there have been just three Chief Winemakers at Mount Pleasant since 1921 has ensured consistency of wine style and quality.
The Hunter Valley in New South Wales was established as a wine region in the early 1820s, following the rapid growth of agricultural and pastoral activities after the arrival of free settlers. Further impetus was added to the Hunter by the advent of amateur viticulturalist James Busby who, returning from the second of two extensive study tours of the winegrowing regions of Europe, arrived back in New South Wales with a named collection of some 500 vine cuttings. Today, the Hunter Valley is widely regarded as the home of Semillon, and McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant as the producer of some of Australia’s best wines from the variety, including McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon.
The winery is today one of the most awarded in Australia. Since 1979, Mount Pleasant has won more than five Championships, 128 trophies, 500 gold, 500 silver and 1104 bronze medals. After the McWilliams acquired ownership of Mount Pleasasnt, Maurice O’Shea went on to make some of Australia’s most highly regarded wines.
English immigrant Charles King planted the Old Hill Vineyard on rich, volcanic soil in Pokolbin in 1880
When Maurice O’Shea purchased the King family’s 16.3ha Hunter Valley property in 1921, he extended the land holding with the purchase of two adjoining parcels of land, on which the ‘Old Paddock’ vineyard was planted. The original Mount Pleasant vineyard features mature, low-yielding vines and is considered one of Australia’s oldest, premier vineyards in Australia. The rich, heavier soils are the result of volcanic activity millions of years ago … today they are the producer of some of the most regarded Shiraz fruit.
McWilliams Lovedale Vineyard is located in the Lower Hunter Valley which falls within the northern section of the geological province of the Sydney Basin, which is often referred to as the main coal basin of New South Wales. It is dominated by a number of siliceous rocks, including quartose, lithic sandstone, shale, claystone, mudstone and conglomerates.
The sandy aggregate soil is only complemented by the harsh reality of a vineyard located in the Hunter Valley, which means rain and humidity often plays havoc with harvest. However, the resulting wine seems to defy these adversities, with McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon reflecting the fact the unique structure of the soil and the environment it lives captures the perfect tightness and acidity for making quality Semillon.
There is a substantial paradox between the environment of the Lovedale Vineyard and the resulting wine
Like Lovedale, Rosehill is widely recognised as one of the elite vineyards in the Hunter Valley. Planted entirely to Shiraz, the Rosehill Vineyard provides fruit from the super premium Roseshill Shiraz and Philip Shiraz. When Maurice O’Shea bought the Rosehill land, he was looking for a similar site to that of Mount Pleasant. What he found was a parcel of rich, volcanic loam soil and planted the Rosehill Vineyard. The old, deep volcanic soils provide the nutrients, character and structure required for premium quality Shiraz.
Seasonally, the region’s climate shifts between Mediterranean conditions found in South Australia (winter rainfall and summer droughts) to the northern Australian climate (summer rain and winter droughts).Of the 787mm annual rainfall, most occurs between October and April. The humidity, the afternoon sea breezes all operate to temper the summer and afford excellent ripening conditions.