After two decades of owning and running popular and award-winning Melbourne hospitaity businesses, brothers Michael and Tony Lee turned their years of love and knowledge of fine wines into a livelihood on Victoria’s beautiful Mornington Peninsula.
The brothers planted their first vineyard in 1997, at Merricks North near the iconic Peninsula road junction named Foxeys Hangout, from which our label takes its name.
The pair later assumed the management of the former Massoni vineyard at Red Hill then owned by their mentor, the Australian sparkling wine pioneer Ian Home. The brothers have undertaken further plantings of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot gris in Red Hill on a historic farming property, the home of Foxeys’ winery and cellar door.
A beautiful book, Foxeys Hangout – stories, photos and recipes – is published by Hardie Grant Books (RRP $45).
Inspired by the benchmark vintages of France’s Champagne region, Michael believes that the Mornington Peninsula’s potential as a producer of great sparkling wine is yet to be fully realised.
Michael began his career in the corporate world but quickly found himself buying, operating and renovating a series of Melbourne cafes and restaurants in partnership with his brother Tony and their mother Margaret, including the French restaurants Les Halles and Garcon.
Together the brothers opened one of Melbourne’s first “gastro-pubs” in the early 1990s, South Yarra’s Argo Hotel, which specialised in Victorian and fine European wines. In 2002, this enterprise was sold, allowing Michael and Tony to focus on Foxeys Hangout.
Michael is responsible for Foxeys’ sparkling winemaking and unique cellar door sparkling disgorgement program.
Tony was 15 when spent a week on work experience at Fergusson’s Winery in Victoria’s Yarra Valley – and he was hooked. He confesses that at the time his desire to become a winemaker may have been driven as much by his awe of Peter Fergusson’s red sports car and glamorous girlfriend as by his newly awakened interest in wine.
Nevertheless, two years later he was off to South Australia’s Roseworthy College to study winemaking, studies destined to be interrupted, but which he resumed in the 1990s at Charles Sturt University in New South Wales.
In the intervening years, Tony trained as a chef as well as training his palate in highly specialised industry wine courses and competitions, while running the family businesses with Michael.
Tony is primarily responsible for the production of Foxeys’ still wines, as well as cooking for visitors at the cellar door kitchen.