The Wine Hunter 2015


The Wine Hunter: Premium Hardcover Edition is now available.

The full price is $52.50. This includes postage to an Australian address. For international orders, please contact:

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In 2006 James Halliday called The Wine Hunter book “One of the most remarkable wine books to come my way … It will capture anyone who reads it: this is not a wine geek book but an epic.”

Australia’s first great winemaker was a Frenchman. As a 24 year old, in 1921, he walked onto a hillside vineyard in the Hunter Valley north-west of Sydney and in a hot, soggy climate set about growing and crafting wines that, when finally opened as fifty- and sixty-year-olds, became renowned as Australia’s first great wines. He made these wines without electricity, with bare bones equipment – his winery, Mount Pleasant never once turned a profit during his 30 year struggle – and with a broken heart. What he achieved out there on that hillside is one of the miracles of wine. The Wine Hunter is Maurice O’Shea’s remarkable story.

I wrote The Wine Hunter ten years ago. It sold out many moons ago and has been out of print since. Almost every week, I receive an email from somewhere in the world, from someone trying to source a copy. It’s never been officially available outside of Australia. Until now. An updated and expanded (definitive) version is now available across the major e-book platforms – iBooks and Amazon – for the princely sum of US $8.99.

This is now the book I always wanted and imagined it to be.

When it was first published, Max Allen in the The Australian Magazine called it “The best book on wine to be published in Australia for many, many years”. The book was fortunate to find other friends, among them:

Paddy Kendlar, Melbourne Herald-Sun: “I started reading a wine book last weekend and finished it on the Sunday night. Literally couldn’t put it down, except to take a break when the story became somewhat sad … It’s a wonderful story with a perception and sensitivity almost matching that of the subject. The few O’Shea wines that I have tasted – made under the McWilliams Mount Pleasant label – were more than forty years old at the time. They were magnificent. Campbell Mattinson has captured the essence of a great Australian artist. I heartily commend this remarkable book.”

Jeni Port, The Age: “Wine Hunter is a breakthrough wine book: an astonishing, cerebral, emotional entanglement of fact and dramatisation, of tender detail and beautiful, expressive words. Has there ever been a wine book written quite this way?”

Jancis Robinson, “Campbell Mattinson (who) is arguably Australia’s most literate, and certainly most literary, wine writer. I have never met him, incidentally, but admire his monograph on the Hunter Valley pioneer Maurice O’Shea immensely.”

Grant Dodd, “This is a genuine call to those of you that love wine and/or love great writing to go out and buy “The Wine Hunter”, by Campbell Mattinson, one of the most inspired pieces of writing in any genre by an Austalian writer for some time. A biopic of sorts on the life of the great but underappreciated Hunter Valley winemaker Maurice O’Shea, “The Wine Hunter” is a beautifully written, emotive story that somehow infiltrates the ghost of O’Shea and brings his undeniable genius to life. It is a great read, and it deserves to be read.”

Even Gary Walsh said nice things about it.

And last week on Twitter, Lisa Perrotti-Brown of The Wine Advocate: “Loved The Wine Hunter. A must-read for lovers of Aussie wine.”

The original commercial publication of The Wine Hunter hit bookstores in 2006 and was published by Hachette Australia. I took re-possession of publishing rights to the book in 2009/2010. The technology was there for me to republish the book then; and there seemed to be demand. Truth is, I wanted to be personally ready to do so. I’ve long been humbled, even a little intimidated, by the praise The Wine Hunter book attracted the first time around. I think in a way it promoted a kind of prolonged stage fright/writer’s block. The only way was down. So much so that I’ve been hesitant to put my hand up for it again.

Harper Lee, eat your heart out.

But much water has passed under the bridge since The Wine Hunter’s publication. It matters little but re-editing, re-reading and setting the book up for re-publication over the past couple of months has proven a cathartic personal experience. It prompted me to quit my position as editor at Wine Companion Magazine despite there being no obvious fallback. If you haven’t already, it would mean the world to me if you gave The Wine Hunter a shot or a chance. The story matters. It’s real.

Original discussion on The Wine Hunter

A premium, print, limited run edition will also be available in a month or two. This version will retail for a whole lot more than US $8.99 / $16.99. But that’s a matter for another day.

Rated : NA Points

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70 Responses to “The Wine Hunter 2015”

  1. Very much looking forward to reading it.

  2. paddybts says:

    Thanks to the wonder that is my local library, I’ve actually had the joy of reading the original. Such a lovely read Campbell.
    All that praise from the critics is well deserved.
    That said, I’m desperately tempted to buy my very own hard copy.
    (I don’t really enjoy the ebook experience.)
    I’m just not sure about whether to go the ‘print your own’ route, or wait for the deluxe version.
    However, since *money now* is better than *money down the track*,
    Let’s see how it looks as a ‘print your own.

  3. lisdillon72 says:

    Thanks for the heads up Campbell, I just downloaded a copy for my Kindle.

  4. simon forbes says:

    Bloody brilliant book, must read for all wine enthusiasts, of which all TWF subscribers are.

  5. BHammer says:

    Fantastic. Can’t wait to read it. Incidentally, it’s clear from the way you review wine that you can write bloody well.

  6. BHammer says:

    GW and MB also appear to be able to write. Any e-books up your sleeves lads?

  7. Gary Walsh says:

    I can’t write but I have a side project with MB in the pipeline. It’s a coffee table book, not quite in the style of Mr Pinsky’s.

  8. Bruce Philip says:

    “Even Walsh said nice things about it.” That made me chuckle! Good stuff Campbell, I’ll have to unearth the book, re-read it, and get the updated version too.

  9. Aaron says:

    Well I have the original but it’s been so long since I read it I’m going to buy it again for my Kindle just to show some support and enjoy it all over again. Brilliant.

  10. luca says:

    Wow, looks great!

    The lawyer in me wants to ask if you’ll publish a markup against the original …

  11. Michael Mueller says:

    I want the burgundy-coloured leather bound edition that comes with the embossed scent of Shiraz Viognier, and gets hand-delivered by CM himself. I’ll happily set aside $49.99 for that. 🙂

  12. andrew ash says:

    Interesting to read CM about your hesitancy to write again. The Wine Hunter was such an amazing read that I’ve been looking forward to your next book ever since.
    For what its worth, if you were to write about another Australian wine tale, and it was only half as good as Wine Hunter, it would still be compulsory reading for any wine lover.

  13. paul starr says:

    Interesting to think of the other stories still out there in Australian wine that could do with a telling along Wine Hunter lines. I recall, Campbell, reading something you’d done on Max Schubert, the war and Grange. I reckon a parallel telling of the life stories of Max Lake, Len Evans and Colin Preece could work really well. Lots of Evans mythology to puncture, lots of depth to the Preece & Lake stories not yet told (and perhaps of more value to Australian wine).

  14. rouge says:

    I’m enjoying this book hugely. You have a great writing style, Campbell. Ever thought about penning a novel?

  15. Jimmy says:

    Campbell, after my visit to Mount Pleasant Last week I am very interested in reading The Wine Hunter. I’m not up to speed with Kindle or iBooks so hard copy would be the preferred option. Is there any more news on the premium print edition?

  16. johnshumphrey says:

    Campbell – got the kindle edition and a great read. A great bottle of table wine is a bit like a time machine but with say a 50 year limit (plus or minus 10). His wines thus spoke for and of him after his death but due to scarcity speak little now and the ranks of those who knew him are thinning. Your book will see that he and his enormous contribution to the Australian wine industry endures.

  17. The other day I received proof copies of a new premium, hard cover edition of The Wine Hunter. These are press samples.
    I’m extremely happy with how it has come out.
    The main shipment of copies doesn’t arrive until later this month.
    I sent a sample copy of this hard cover version to James H, and he’s rather enthusiastic about it.
    I haven’t printed many copies.
    I doubt they are going to last.
    I will be selling my allocation direct via
    In due course, some editions will find their way to retail book stores – in very limited number – but these won’t appear in bookstores until late November/early December.
    Some copies will also be stocked at the Mount Pleasant cellar door, probably from around the end of October.
    Otherwise, if you want a copy, direct through me is the way to go.
    It’s gift worthy.
    I’m taking orders now, but copies won’t/can’t be mailed out until early October. Other than the sample copies, the books aren’t actually in the country yet.

  18. Dave55 says:

    Your post reminded me I hadn’t post a comment on the book.

    Can’t recommend the book enough Campbell. It’s a great insight into O’Shea and the Hunter (and Australian) wine industry. So well written. I’m trying to convince my wife to get her girls book club to read it – I reckon it’s got a far wider potential audience than just us wine people. So glad I bought and read it.

    My Great Great Great Grandfather Thomas Holmes was one of the early wine growers/makers in the hunter (well Clarence Town/Williams Rivers really) in the 1830s. Alas, a conversion to being methodists resulted in the 2nd generation (except my direct ancestor) pulling up all the vines 🙁 I’ve managed to find some old minutes of meetings of the early vignerons and their sharing of the different table wines they made back in the mid 19th century. As there were no doubt examples of their ‘better’ wines, the notes would suggest there may be a reason why table wines didn’t take off in Australia for many years;)

  19. Jimmy says:

    Great stuff Campbell. I’ve ordered a copy and am really looking forward to reading it.

  20. john pearce says:

    I’m happy to endorse the book too. I can confidently say that its the best book I’ve read in the last 2 years. That’s partly because its the only book I’ve read fully in the last 2 years – but even if I had read others I’m sure it would be right up there.

    • MichaelC says:

      I have been struggling through a book for about a year on following the footsteps of Genghis Khan. As I read all day, reading for pleasure does not really stack up. I am collecting books for my retirement though, which may be some way off unfortunately. Every retiree I know is ridiculously busy doing the stuff they actually like doing. Drinking may also form part of that …

  21. Michael Mueller says:

    My copy is ordered. Happy days.

    In the meantime, I’ll keep working my way through Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature (very good) and Clive James’ translation of The Divine Comedy (early days, but valiantly bracing).

    • john pearce says:

      I will continue reading my legal authorities and Decanter magazines..

      • Michael Mueller says:

        You know, I’ve never even read (much less bought) a copy of Decanter. Alas.

        I’ve been collecting a music magazine (Mojo) since issue #1, and if I were to start buying (and keeping) another collection, my wife would set fire to them (or me) before too long.

  22. Jules says:

    Done. Don’t buy many physical books these days but The Wine Hunter is must-have of course.

  23. ec fischer says:

    Article in FT Weekend by Jancis Robinson fits here in many ways.

  24. Willard says:

    Hi Campbell,

    I bought a soft-cover copy of your book a couple of months back and carried it around for a while without properly starting it. I finally got into it last weekend, and promptly read the whole thing.

    I love the colour you put into conversations immediately lost to the Hunter wind. Made me curse the rain of so many years ago. Made me wish he was my mate. Following the story made me side with Len Evans on the outcome of his shack. Made me smile, and absolutely gutted me at various times.

    Enough rambling from me, but I offer my sincere thanks for the book. I’ve just ordered a hard copy to give to my Dad, who has been a Hunter drinker from his younger years. Don’t know if he ever tasted an O’Shea wine, might have been born too late, but I’ll ask him next time we speak.


  25. Books should start to arrive next week.
    Halliday has seen the new edition and passed comment on it here:

    Which was nice.
    Busy day on the order front.

  26. The books have arrived and so book orders have now been fulfilled. If you’ve already ordered a copy – it is now winging its ways to you.

  27. Gylesey says:

    I’m yet to start reading but this is beautifully presented Campbell. Well done.

  28. Jimmy says:

    I got mine today. Super looking book.

  29. If you want a copy of this book in time for Xmas, now’s a good time to order.

  30. via collins says:

    Book received, will be accompanying me on a holiday next week. Not the lightest book I’ll carry – a real up yours to the e-reader community!

    But I’m sure I shall enjoy as much as the first time around. It looks bloody great.

  31. DaveS says:

    Lucky enough to receive a copy of this from Santa. Looking forward to the read!

  32. robgill says:

    300ml of rain in Newcastle area since Monday. Reminded of Maurice O’Shea’s early days. Plus ca change. Hope vintage is ok . Was looking good until this deluge I believe.

    • Mike Bennie says:

      Aside all that pesky hail that smashed through maturing fruit, it was looking good… think this one will be tough, some winemakers cursing Mother Nature already.

  33. Dave55 says:

    Good article in the Newcastle Herald today about O’Shea to mark 60th anniversary of his death.

    McWilliams are apparently restoring his gravestone – Good on them!

  34. Mike Bennie says:

    So chuffed and proud to see CM shortlisted for this book for Domaine Faiveley International Wine Book Of The Year 2016 in the definitive Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards 2016. Bloody oath. Onya.
    Great to also see our mate Andrea Frost in the mix (twice!) too.

  35. The final award to be announced at the prestigious Louis Roederer International
    Wine Writers’ Awards 2016 in London last night was the Chairman’s Award for the book The Wine Hunter. Full credit and congratulations to all the finalists and winners of the individual awards. Writers do what they do for various complex and assorted reasons but it’s rarely for financial gain and the road is never easy, ever, for any of us, no matter how it may sometimes appear. A few crumbs of acknowledgement therefore never goes astray. Thank you.

  36. Willard says:

    Congratulations Campbell, richly deserved! Well done.

  37. DaveS says:

    I’m 3-4 of the way through it and it’s a top read. Well done Campbell!

  38. Gylesey says:

    Well done Campbell!

  39. PeterB7858 says:

    Well done, Campbell.

  40. johnshumphrey says:

    CM – congratulations on the recognition you’ve received for the book. Seriously interesting and good read. Something nice about the acknowledgement of the effort that goes into writing. ?

  41. Michael Mueller says:

    Highly deserved recognition for one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. Well done, Campbell.

  42. I have about 15 or so copies of this hard cover version left and I’m kind of short on space.
    If anyone is interested in one, let me know. Or make me an offer.


  43. Kenny says:

    A great book! Highly recommended reading.

  44. Diq says:

    I’ve been trying to track a copy down as a Christmas present. I’ll grab one if you can send it to Brisbane.

  45. Bruce Philip says:

    Completely forgot about getting one. You now have 1 less!


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The WINEFRONT has flourished as a wine review and information site since 2002. We believe in hard work, realistic scoring, reliability and rigorous independence. We cover Australian wine principally but we extend coverage across the wider world of wine. The hunt for the next beautiful wine knows no boundaries. The WINEFRONT is run by Campbell Mattinson, Gary Walsh and Mike Bennie. A full history of reviews and articles is available to subscribers via the WINE SEARCH tab.



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