McWilliam’s Wines is proud to announce the appointment of Jim Chatto to the role of McWilliam’s Chief Winemaker, based at Mount Pleasant in the Hunter Valley. Jim becomes the fourth Chief Winemaker to be based at Mount Pleasant since Maurice O’Shea established the Hunter Valley winery in 1921.

Jim’s appointment will see him responsible for the winemaking and stylistic direction of all McWilliam’s wines across its Australian portfolio, and follows the retirement of Phil Ryan in 2012. Jim will be working with the key Senior Winemakers at each site and he joins the team following time spent as a consultant with McWilliam’s throughout the 2013 vintage.

“Mount Pleasant’s place in the story of Australian wine is significant and having had the rare privilege of tasting some great O’Shea wines, I’m aware of the gravitas the role carries and the enormous responsibility to honour the legacy of Maurice O’Shea and the individuality of each Mount Pleasant site, as well as the broader McWilliam’s brands” Jim Chatto

Jim also paid tribute to Phil Ryan’s legacy, “Phil Ryan has been a great champion of our region, an enormously accomplished winemaker; and mentor to many. I am deeply honoured to be Phil’s successor and be part of the incredible wine story that is Mount Pleasant.”

Jim joins McWilliam’s from Pepper Tree wines where he has held the position of Chief Winemaker since 2007. During this time he was named 2009 Hunter Valley Winemaker of the Year, as well a 2010 Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year finalist.

With 20 vintages of Hunter Valley winemaking experience, Jim is also a senior wine show judge with over 14 years experience across both regional and capital city shows and has been Chairman of Judges at the Hunter Valley Wine Show since 2012.

Jim says he has had a longstanding interest and respect for McWilliam’s, “When I tasted the 1984 Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon, it inspired me so much that I lodged my first ever job application with Mount Pleasant. While the circumstances didn’t work out at the time, I have been known to jump the fence often over the last two decades to take a peek at the Mount Pleasant vineyards.”

A passionate Hunter Valley advocate, Jim says he is looking forward to working with the Mount Pleasant vineyards to express the fruit purity of each site, “My philosophy will be to make proudly Hunter wines of longevity, purity and freshness, true to their region and true to their site.”

McWilliam’s Wines Production Director, Jim Brayne said the appointment showcased the focus McWilliam’s Wines was investing in its portfolio.

“Phil Ryan’s enormous contribution followed by Jim’s passionate and extensive knowledge of the Hunter Valley and key regions throughout Australia, as well as the strength of his award winning winemaking will be a credit to our wine brands,” Jim Brayne said.