It was English immigrant Charles King who first planted vines on the Old Hill Vineyard in 1880 at the southern end of the Hunter Valley in a parish called Pokolbin against the backdrop of the Brokenback Range. Then in 1921 along came 24 year old Maurice O'Shea who persuaded his widowed mother Leontine to buy the King family's 16.3 hectare property along with two adjoining parcels of land on which O'Shea planted the Old Paddock Vineyard; he called the estate Mount Pleasant and established his winery. O'Shea had studied viticulture and oenology before lecturing in France at the university of Montpellier, so he knew a thing or two about wine. The McWilliam family had become famous for their fortified wines and in 1932, recognising the exceptional winemaking talent of O'Shea, they bought a half share of Mount Pleasant, acquiring the remaining share in 1941, and kept O'Shea on as Chief Winemaker and Manager. Maurice O'Shea would go on to craft some of Australia's greatest wines. He is acknowledged as “The Grandfather” of Australian table wines and a pioneer of the country's wine industry. He died in 1956 but his legacy is remembered with the Maurice O'Shea Award, a tribute to his remarkable innovation and foresight. This is one of the highest honours an Australian winemaker can receive. Today Mount Pleasant is still owned by the McWilliam's family, now sixth generation. Adrian Sparks is the winemaker. He is one of Australia's leading winemakers and has worked for McWilliam's since 1998, collecting a raft of awards along the way. Mount Pleasant have five vineyard sites, all in Pokolbin.
The original 3.11 hectare Old Hill Vineyard planted by Charles King back in 1880, planted with Shiraz on volcanic structured red and yellow Podzolic over medium clay soils.
The 0,74 hectare Old Paddock Vineyard planted by O'Shea with Shiraz in 1921 on the same volcanic structured soils as the Old Hill Vineyard.
The Estate Vineyard has 29.5 hectares under vine on red Podzolic over clay and sandstone soils, with Chardonnay, Verdelho, Tyrian, Shiraz, Merlot, and this block also includes some of the oldest Pinot Noir Vines in Australia, planted in 1921.
The 27 hectare Rosehill Vineyard was planted by O'Shea in 1945 with Shiraz on rich volcanic loam. The 31.1 Lovedale Vineyard was planted by O'Shea in 1946 on sandy aggregate loam with Semillon, and now includes some Chardonnay and Verdelho.
This historic estate are Semillon and Shiraz specialists and their iconic multi award-winning wines are benchmarks of the Hunter Valley – when you choose a Mount Pleasant wine, you choose the best of the Hunter Valley in every glass!