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.
Léontine then extended the holding by purchasing two adjoining parcels of land. Maurice O’Shea named the site Mount Pleasant. It was at Mount Pleasant that Maurice began his pioneering work in table wines. He was a gifted winemaker but also a loyal friend and a loving husband. In December 1925, Maurice O’Shea married his great love, Marcia Singer Fuller. They would then have a much loved daughter, Simone.
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.
...turning grapes into 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.
– Campbell Mattinson, Wine Hunter
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.
With the financial support of the McWilliam family, Maurice purchased the Lovedale and Rosehill Vineyards and focused on his winemaking. To this day – more than half a century later – O’Shea’s wines from the 1940s and early 1950s continue to display the character for which their maker was renowned.
In 1956, aged 59, Maurice passed away surrounded by both Marcia and his daughter, Simone.