Margaret River pioneer Dr John Gladstones has been named the 2008 winner of the Maurice O’Shea Award.
This prestigious award, given by McWilliam’s Wines and in honour of the company’s late, renowned winemaker Maurice O’Shea, is awarded for historically significant contributions to the industry.
Apart from discovering and launching the development of Margaret River 40 years ago, Gladstones also published in 1992 a major global study, ‘Viticulture and environment’, which pinpointed Australia’s coastal regions as having the country’s greatest potential for winegrape growing.
A contributor on viticultural environment to The Oxford Companion to Wine, he is currently completing a book examining terroir and the possible effects of climate change.
But it was his identification of the viticultural potential of Margaret River in the 1960s for which he is most noted. He says it resulted from a ‘hobbyist’s’ interest in viticulture.
Before then, and since, his work with the Western Australia Department of Agriculture was as an agronomist mainly involved plant breeding.
The Margaret River studies led to substantial plantings of winegrape vines in the region which, despite a slump in activity in the 1980s, now has about 120 producers crushing 35,000 tonnes of grapes.
Leeuwin Estate, Cape Mentelle, Cullen, Moss Wood, Pierro and Vasse Felix are among its most notable wineries.
The victory is only the third by a Western Australian winery in the 46-year-old event which has been dominated by South Australian wineries.
Cape Mentelle, also from Margaret River, won in 1983 and 1984.
The trophy is awarded for the best one year old red wine in the show.
Flametree’s 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot won from 660 entries.
Written by Chris Snow in Adelaide