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McWilliam's Wines Announces Winner of 2012 Maurice O'Shea Award

The Australian Wine Industry’s most prestigious award, the 2012 McWilliam’s Maurice O’Shea Award, was last night awarded to the Australian Screwcap Initiative. The award was given in recognition of all those involved in the successful introduction of the closure and the contribution this made to the advancement of quality in Australia wine.

The McWilliam’s Wines Maurice O’Shea Award is awarded biennially and honours the memory of legendary McWilliam’s Wines winemaker, the late Maurice O’Shea and recognises a historically significant contribution to the Australian Wine Industry. 

Jeffrey Grosset, a long-time advocate, educator and adopter of the screwcap closure, accepted the award on behalf of all supporters and in front of more than 250 guests at a gala dinner in Melbourne.

McWilliam’s Wines Group Chairman, Doug McWilliam, said the Australia’s Wine Industry’s early trials and later endorsement and widespread use of the closure throughout the 2000s was a unique and significant achievement that advanced both the quality and perception of Australian wine.

“What we experienced was an industry respecting its consumers and its wines by putting wine quality paramount. The initiative and introduction of screwcap changed perceptions and showcased Australia as brave, quality focused and innovative on the world stage,” Doug McWilliam said.

At the turn of the millennium, Jeffrey Grosset and a group of supporters embarked on a journey to ensure all elements of research and manufacturing were in place to make screwcap a successful closure from a winemaking, quality and consumer confidence perspective.

In August 2000, a group of 13 Clare Valley winemakers including Grosset, launched their Rieslings under screwcap and made the first collective push to reintroduce (after early trials in the 1970s) the closure to consumers. A year later, the number of producers in the initiative had doubled.

“The early trials undertaken in the 1970s were thorough and the closure was excellent, but its commercial introduction wasn’t realised because people weren’t aware of the benefits,” Jeffrey Grosset said.

“The introduction of screwcap remains the most significant advancement in the quality and consistency of premium wine in recent times. The challenge now is to maintain our integrity and leadership. A thorough understanding and acceptance of the closure in critical export markets, particularly China, may well determine whether we are seen as taking leadership in terms of integrity and quality of premium wine' Jeffrey Grosset added.

Doug McWilliam said, “This year’s award really recognises collaboration, from those that collectively undertook the trials and research, to the trade and media which supported the closure’s introduction and then the consumers who embraced it.”

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