Maurice O’Shea


Inducted 28 November 2008

Maurice George O’Shea was born in 1897 in North Sydney, the son of an Irish-born wine and spirit merchant and his French wife. Maurice was educated in Sydney and France, before training as a viticulturist and analytical chemist at the University of Montpellier, where he also lectured. He returned to NSW in 1920.

Maurice began to make wine on the family property, which came to be known as Mount Pleasant, at Pokolbin. After a number of years working independently, in 1932 he sold a half-share in the vineyard to McWilliam's Wines, and became manager and a director of its subsidiary, Mt Pleasant Wines.

This arrangement left him free to concentrate on winemaking, even after 1941 when he sold out completely, but remained manager and winemaker.

Maurice became a major purchaser of Hunter Valley grapes and wine for resale and blending. His innovative approach enabled him to develop new expertise, breaking with tradition by using varietal rather than generic names for his products and calling wines after individual vats and vineyards.

He was also knowledgeable about food, and highly regarded by owners of Sydney restaurants.

Maurice had a long association with the Wine and Food Society and was president of its Newcastle branch.

Maurice’s career as a winemaker saw him gain a legendary status in the Australian wine industry, and his contribution to that industry helped to make it the international success that it is today.

Maurice died in 1956 at the age of 58.

In 1990, the biennial Maurice O'Shea Award was initiated, to commemorate and pay homage to Maurice. The award is considered the highest honour the wine industry can confer on one its members. 

For more information, visit the Mount Pleasant Wines website.

Plaque location

Visitor Information Centre, Wine Country Drive, Pokolbin