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Vale Brother John May


Brother John May SJ AM, long-serving winemaker at Sevenhill Cellars in the Clare Valley, died on August 18 aged 92.

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John was the seventh Jesuit winemaker at Sevenhill, a position he held from 1972 until his retirement from full-time work in 2003. The winery was established is 1851 by the Society of Jesus, a Catholic religious order commonly known as the Jesuits.

“John’s engagement across the cellars, St Aloysius’ Church, and in later years the onsite retreat centre characterised Br John’s deep commitment to an active, but contemplative and devotional, faith,” said Jesuit Provincial, Fr Quyen Vu SJ.

“John was so committed as a Jesuit to his mission in winemaking, which was unexpectedly entrusted to him.”

Br John was inducted into the Clare Valley Hall of Fame in 2014 and received a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2016. He became a lifetime member of the Wine Makers Federation (now Australian Grape and Wine) in 2004.

Br John’s passion for the Clare Valley was evident in his role as a founding member of the Clare Valley Vine Improvement Society and inaugural president of the Clare Valley Tourist Association, as well as memberships of a range of industry and community groups, including the Clare Valley Winemakers Association.

“This service to winemaking and the local community has been widely recognised,” said Jonathan O’Neill, general manager of Sevenhill Cellars.

“Along with his deep faith, it was his engagement with community that was most important to him.

“What he would have been most proud of is what he did for the local community. John May was a great man, one of the truly great gentlemen of the Australian wine industry and community, who will be sorely missed.”


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