New chief winemaker appointed at McWilliams

May 14, 2018
By Alana House

McWilliam’s Wines Group has announced a new era for winemaking at its iconic Mount Pleasant winery, with Adrian Sparks moving into the role of Chief Winemaker.

Sparks is only the fifth Chief Winemaker in the 98-year history of the winery, joining winemaking alumni including the late great Maurice O’Shea and most recently, the highly celebrated Jim Chatto. 

Having worked across the Mount Pleasant portfolio for over four years and a further 16 with the group, Sparkes has a great respect and love for both the Hunter Valley wine region and the heritage of the brand he now heads up.

“It is an absolute honour and privilege to be given this opportunity. Mount Pleasant is home to some of the country’s best wines and vineyard sites. It’s part of Australia’s winemaking history and has a really authentic story to tell.” he said.  

“Working with fruit from vines planted by arguably Australia’s greatest winemaker is certainly something to treasure and upholding that outstanding quality is something I’ll never become complacent with. The future is exciting.” he continued.

Sparks’ wines have been awarded numerous trophies, medals and commendations. Most recently the ‘Winery of the Year’ award cited in Halliday’s 2017 Wine Companion as well as ‘NSW Wine of the Year’ in 2013, ‘Best Young Dry White Table Wine of Show’ at the 2013 Royal Melbourne Wine Awards and the ‘Best Table Wine of Show’ Trophy at the 2006 Vintage Cellars National Wine Show. 

He is a regular judge at wine shows including the Halliday Chardonnay Challenge, Australian National Wine Show and Royal Brisbane Wine Show among others. He also most recently represented McWilliam’s Wines Group at the highly prestigious Len Evans Tutorial in 2017.

Jim Chatto will continue to be part of McWilliam’s Wines Group as Group Winemaker – McWilliam’s Wines Group. 

“Since joining Mount Pleasant in 2014, Adrian has fully embraced the unique sites and legacy of Maurice O’Shea,” Chatto said. “Adrian is a highly skilled and intuitive winemaker, with soft, yet sure, hands. He will undoubtedly carve his own path, whilst being true to the vision of our country’s most celebrated winemaker,” said Jim of the appointment.

“I look forward to working closely with Adrian on the next chapter of the great Australian wine story that is Mount Pleasant.

Sparks will oversee all winemaking and viticultural efforts that take place on the Mount Pleasant site while Chatto will oversee the entire McWilliam’s Wines Group winemaking efforts.

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