The winners of the Maurice O’Shea Award and the new McWilliam’s Excellence in Action Award were announced in Adelaide on Sunday night, marking a new era for the triennial industry event.
Winemaker and consultant Pamela Dunsford OAM received this year’s Maurice O’Shea Award in honour of her 40-year-plus contribution to the Australia Wine Industry.
For the new McWilliam’s Excellence in Action Award, the trophy went to the Australian Women In Wine Awards (AWIWA) for their dedicated focus on championing the work of women in the Australian wine community.
Upon accepting the Maurice O’Shea Award, Dunsford said she was honoured to be in the company of past winners of this award.
“I’ve always been pleased that I chose the profession of winemaking, rather than a lawyer or doctor, as the clients of my friends who are lawyers or doctors are unhappy to see them. But everyone is happy to see a winemaker,” she said.
“I want to pay tribute to the great Len Evans (always Mr Evans to me), a past winner of this award and who, in the late 80s, wrote a reference for me to Krug, which opened the doors of the champagne houses to me, and of course, the rest of my story is now history.”
The award recognises Dunsford’s selfless contributions to the Australian wine industry spanning four decades in addition to blazing a trail for women in the wine industry, since first finding her passion for winemaking while studying at the University of Adelaide in 1973. Dunsford later became the first woman admitted to study Oenology at Roseworthy Agricultural College.
Her string of firsts also includes being the first female winemaker to become a wine show judge, the first female to hold an important winemaking position at a large company, one of the first women in the country to be a wine educator and consultant, and the first woman to be employed at vintage at the renowned champagne house, Krug.
Her consulting work led her to Chapel Hill where she oversaw an impressive 19 vintages as chief winemaker.
“Pamela’s dedication to the industry extends far beyond her direct contributions to her employment at some of Australia’s finest wineries,” Adrian Sparks, Chief Winemaker for Mount Pleasant Wines said.
“Without seeking reward or recognition, Pamela has given so much to the industry as a thought leader, educator, consultant, innovator and trailblazer.
“She wholly embodies what the Maurice O’Shea Award stands for and we are so honoured to celebrate her achievements at this special event.”
In addition to the Maurice O’Shea Award, the new McWilliam’s Excellence In Action Award was also presented at the ceremony.
The new award was created by McWilliam’s Wines’ new owners – the Calabria Family Wine Group – as part of the new collaboration with Mount Pleasant to focus on the many current challenges facing the wine industry and the people or organisations tackling the key issues head on for the betterment of the industry.
On accepting the award on behalf of the AWIWA, Founder Jane Thomson said It was a great honour to be the inaugural winner of the industry award.
“I want to thank McWilliam’s, the Calabria Family Wine Group and the judges,” Thompson said.
“The AWIWA is enormously proud of the impact we have made on gender equality in our industry, but there is still so far to go.
“Whilst the wine industry is currently facing challenges on many fronts, this remains the issue of our time and we urgently need more resources, funding and energy to be directed towards increasing equality in the workplace for the betterment of the entire wine community.”
The AWIWA was founded in 2015 with the aim to support and mentor women, share experiences, encourage, inspire and action change. The awards play a critical role in recognising positive female role models and leaders in the sector.
The inaugural Australian Wine Industry Awards was presented at an invite-only ceremony and dinner at Aurora Restaurant in Adelaide and was attended by leaders across the wine industry, producers and industry body representatives. The awards were followed by a special dinner matched with Mount Pleasant and McWilliam’s Wines.
Are you a Daily Wine News subscriber? If not, click here to join our mailing list. It’s free!