Main Ridge Estate is owned and operated by the Sexton family. Tim, Libby and James Sexton live on site, and provide hands-on support in the vineyard and cellar door. James Sexton is the winemaker, guided by Nat White and supported by assistant winemaker Linda Hodges.
The Sexton Family
Tim and Libby started their careers training together at Westminster Hotel School in London. In 2014 Tim retired after 34 years as head of catering operations at Spotless Group. Tim has extensive experience in large scale hospitality venues, events and function centres such as the MCG and ZINC at Federation Square. Libby retired from the travel industry in 2014, after a long career in international hotels, retail and wholesale travel.
While not involved in day-to-day operations, Tim and Libby’s daughter and son-in law support marketing and communications activities at Main Ridge Estate. Emily is Head of Programming at the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas. She has extensive experience in arts management and events, virtue of her previous roles as creative director of the Melbourne Fringe and Next Wave Festivals. John Bailey is a journalist with The Age.
James Sexton – Winemaker
James is a commerce graduate of the Blue Mountains Hotel School, and an experienced sommelier, receiving the 2011 “Electrolux Young Waiter of the Year Award”. James has worked at Sydney restaurants est, Sepia, and as manager of the two-hatted Oscillate Wildly restaurant. With a change of direction in mind, in mid 2015 James commenced the Bachelor of Wine Science degree at Charles Sturt University, as Nat White did 40 years ago.
Linda Hodges – Viticulturalist/ Asst Winemaker
Linda has worked at Main Ridge Estate since 2001. Over those 14 years she has worked closely with Nat in the vineyard and winery, and has developed a deep understanding of the Estate and Nat’s winemaking philosophy. This hands-on experience has been supplemented with winemaking studies at Dookie College, and in 2007 Linda was awarded a Diploma of Wine Technology, University of Melbourne.
Nat White – Consultant
Nat will be continuing at Main Ridge Estate as a consultant in the vineyard and winery, ensuring that the Main Ridge Estate style is maintained. He will mentor James, as he has done for many other aspiring winemakers.
A short history of Main Ridge Estate
Main Ridge Estate is the story of a successful, family run boutique winery, the first commercial cellar door on the Mornington Peninsula.
Here are some highlights from the past 42 years:
|1960’s||Nat and Rose White working in UK; whilst camping in France, they enjoyed an inspirational visit to Chateau Pommard in Burgundy|
|1975||Purchased an affordable, failed lemon orchard in a Red Hill back block; experimental plantings of 7 grape varietals|
|1976||3 hectares planted progressively, until 1979; Nat commences Wine Science degree at Charles Sturt University|
|1978||Flinders Shire approves construction of the Main Ridge Estate (MRE) winery|
|1979||First vintage – 20 litres pressed through a kitchen moulis at Nat and Roses Mt Eliza home|
|1980||First commercial vintage at MRE and first cellar liquor license granted on the Mornington Peninsula|
|1981||First release:Pinot Meunier $5.50, Pinot Noir $5.60, Cabernet$6.50; Rose’s scientist father Gwyn Jones founding Mornington Peninsula Vignerons Association president|
|1983||Early recognition – gold medals at Lilydale Wine Show; Sir Brian Murray, Victorian Governor visits and selects MRE wine for Government House receptions|
|1987||Nat graduates from Charles Sturt, as Bachelor of Wine Science|
|1992||MRE wines launched in the UK at a banquet at Harewood House|
|2001||Robin Bradley in Australian Wine Vintages awards 5 Gold Stars to MRE Chardonnay “…among the great wines of the world”|
|2007||QANTAS selects Main Ridge Estate for their first class cabins;|
|2008||Half Acre recognised as “1 in a 100” by Wine Business Monthly; 2004 Half Acre selected as iconic wine for Australian Trade Commission dinner in Singapore|
|2010||Langton’s Classification of “Excellent” awarded to Half Acre Pinot|
|2012||Entire 2011 Pinot vintage discarded, failing to meet MRE standard|
|2014||Langton’s Classification of “Outstanding” for Half Acre Pinot Noir|
|2015||Half Acre – listed as an “Australian Icon” in Gourmet Traveller|
|Nat and Rose retire after 40 years; MRE sold to the Sexton family James Sexton commences Wine Science degree at Charles Sturt|
|2016||James’ first vintage as Main Ridge Estate winemaker, guided by Nat and assisted by Linda|
Andrew Kopp Local photographer Andrew is responsible for the beautiful photography of Main Ridge Estate. Find out more at www.andrewkopp.com.