We know you love our wines, but how much do you know about where our grapes come from?
Maurice O'Shea founded Mount Pleasant Wines when he was just 24! 100 years ago, all that stood on the site was the Old Hill vineyard.
Planted in 1880 by Charles King, the 41 year old Old Hill Shiraz vine provided the foundation for Maurice O'Shea's Mount Pleasant wines.
Whether or not King knew it, planting the Old Hill at the foothills of Mount Bright proved a masterstroke - the vines are spared the intense heat of the Hunter Valley Summer as the mountain shades the site from the harsh afternoon sun. This allows the vines to rest and recover faster, giving them a chance for better acid retention in the fruit, resulting in a fresher tasting wine.
From his training at Montpellier, O'Shea could easily recognise the potential of this vineyard and the shiraz from Old Hill formed the base of his red wines for vintages to come, heralding the beginning of fine table wine production in Australia.
Maurice O'Shea planted two of his own vineyards during his first year at Mount Pleasant, Old Paddock using cuttings from Old Hill and Mothervine from vines included in the Busby collection, which would go on to form the MV6 clone that is used globally today.
Old Paddock was planted when O'Shea acquired two adjoining parcels of land along Marrowbone Road, extending the estate to the site you see today. Old Paddock enjoys an elevated easterly aspect, overlooking the sprawling Hunter Valley.
O'Shea's mastery at selecting perfect vineyard sites extended to other areas of the Pokolbin region with the acquisition of the Lovedale and Rosehill vineyards in 1939 and 1945 respectively.
Eighteen years after a young Maurice established Mount Pleasant, he purchased a site from the Love family on the flats of Pokolbin, rich with sandy loam, upon which semillon was to be planted. Alas, the outbreak of the Second World War saw O'Shea's plans curtailed as the land was reclaimed by the Australian Government for use as an emergency landing field as a part of the war effort.
The Royal Australian Air Force finished construction of two 1500m x 50m runways, side by side, in 1942 and RAAF Base Pokolbin remained in operation until the end of the war in 1945.
O'Shea planted his first white variety in the Spring of 1946. As fate would have it, we are planting vines on Lovedale this coming Spring, some 75 years later.
Lovedale has proved to be another brilliant choice by Maurice O'Shea, with the vineyard consistently providing the winery with pristine and complex fruit to craft into our iconic Lovedale Semillon.
Chief Winemaker, Adrian Sparks, recently commented to Halliday Wine Companion Magazine on the Lovedale Vineyard:
"I'm sure there's a few rogue vines in among the semillon planted there. We're not quite sure what they are, but it's less than 2 per cent of the crop. That's the beauty and mystery of Lovedale...why it's such a true site-specific wine. You can't replicate it anywhere else. It's totally unique."
Along with Lovedale, Rosehill was also planted in the Spring of 1946. This 22 hectare parcel of volcanic loam soil with patches of limestone and eroded basalt became home for a different style of Mount Pleasant shiraz.
The neighbouring property was purchased by the McWilliam family in 1965 and the then Chief Winemaker, Brian Walsh, planted further shiraz vines. When compared to most vineyards in the Hunter Valley, the soil that makes up Rosehill is incredibly unique. This leads to the shiraz on that vineyard proving more gentle than its' Old Hill and Old Paddock counterparts.
Angus Hughson from Wine Pilot commented that "...despite not always receiving quite the attention that it deserves, Rosehill has still produced many memorable bottles of wine, stretching back to 1959, with more recent vintages such as the 1991 also a standout. Never overly sturdy and dense, as the Old Paddock and Old Hill can be, the best Rosehill Shiraz is a picture of elegance and understated strength, delicious in its supple drinkability yet with plenty of staying power. While not one of the Hunter Valley's most famous wines, it is one of the very best and a living tribute to the genius of Maurice O'Shea."
If you have any questions about our vineyards, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org - with 100 Years under our belt, there is plenty more to tell you!