Pamela Dunsford accepting the Maurice O'Shea Award. The award's new swan imagery is inspired by the O'Shea family crest.

In a ceremony held in Adelaide on Sunday night, winners of the Maurice O’Shea Award, and the new McWilliam’s Excellence in Action Award, were revealed.

The Maurice O’Shea Award is given triennially to an individual, group or organisation ‘in recognition of the incredible service and contribution’ they have made to Australian wine.

This year’s title went to Pamela Dunsford OAM, in honour of her contribution to Australian wine over the previous 40-plus years.

Dunsford, who has worked as a consultant and winemaker (producing 19 vintages as chief winemaker at Chapel Hill), expressed her pride and joy at winning the award.

“I’m 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,” Dunsford 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.”

In a press statement, the award’s organisers pointed to the role Dunsford has played in blazing a trail for women in the industry.

‘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,’ the statement read.

Dunsford originally sparked her love of winemaking while studying at the University of Adelaide in 1973, before being admitted into Roseworthy Argicultural College’s Oenology program.

Adrian Sparks, Chief Winemaker at Mount Pleasant Wines (which Maurice O’Shea established as one of Australia’s foremost producers), commented on Dunsford’s triumph.

“Pamela’s dedication to the industry extends far beyond her direct contributions to her employment at some of Australia’s finest wineries.

“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,” Sparks added.

Australian Women in Wine Awards pick up first McWilliam’s Excellence in Action Gong

Sunday night also saw the presentation of the inaugural McWilliam’s Excellence in Action Award, which was created by the Calabria Family Wine Group (CFWG) following their acquisition of McWilliam’s Wine.

The trophy was given to the Australian Women In Wine Awards (AWIWA), founded by Jane Thomson of the Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society, in recognition of the work the awards have done in highlighting positive female role models in the wine sector.

Thomson, who collected the award on behalf of the AWIW, said: “It is a great honour to be the inaugural winner of this new and important industry award, and I want to thank McWilliam’s, the Calabria Family Wine Group and the judges.

“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,” Thomson continued.

“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,” she concluded.

Andrew Calabria, third generation of the Calabria family and Sales & Marketing Director for CFWG, commented on the new award and AWIWA’s success.

“There was an incredible selection of finalists considered for this new award, but the action demonstrated by Jane and the wider Australian Women in Wine Awards Advisory Board in mobilising the community to celebrate and recognise the female leaders in our industry stood out in the final selection,” Andrew said.

“Diversity, equality and fairness for all in the workplace is not a challenge isolated to just the wine industry, but it’s one we recognise is moving in the right direction thanks to this incredible organisation and the work they do to inspire change across the category.”

The ceremony was held  at Aurora Restaurant in Adelaide. These awards will next be granted in 2025.

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