Hunter Valley

Legendary People

Phil Ryan – Winemaker

Mount Pleasant is one of the Hunter Valley’s most awarded and iconic wineries and the bulk of the success enjoyed in recent years can be attributed to the hard work and prodigious winemaking talent of the recently retired Chief Winemaker, Phil Ryan. Throughout his stewardship, Mount Pleasant was awarded a staggering three championships, more than 169 trophies and 3194 medals, including 645 gold medals.

Since 1921, there was only a handful of Chief Winemakers at Mount Pleasant and the legendary Hunter Valley winemaker, Phil Ryan  joined the McWilliam’s team when he was just 19 years old and worked for the winery for over 48 years.  He was appointed to the position of Chief Winemaker at Mount Pleasant in 1978.

“I was there for a very long time. My career began at McWilliam’s in the ‘60s and I was involved with Mount Pleasant from day one. My first trip to Mount Pleasant was in 1967 and then, in the Hunter Valley, there were no restaurants, no accommodation, no sealed roads and just six wineries. It was very tiny and different to what it is today and the thing I’ve enjoyed most has been being a part of that enormous growth.”

Incoming Chief Winemaker Jim Chatto acknowledges the huge debt owed to Phil Ryan by Mount Pleasant and the wider Australian wine community.  Though Phil has passed on his winemaking responsibilities, he stays on as an Ambassador for McWilliam’s and Mount Pleasant, continuing his involvement with the winery with which he has enjoyed a half century involvement. He also has his own vineyard in the Hunter Valley, Ryan Estate.