“How did you come to own Main Ridge Estate?” we are often asked.
The truth is we had no plan to be vignerons, and some serendipitous events landed us here!
In 2014 Libby and I were newly retired and thinking of a tree-change. James’ commitment to his successful career in Sydney restaurants as a sommelier and manager was waning, and he was interested in winemaking. On a family holiday in Burgundy, he talked fancifully about the dream of owning a winery.
Move forward to Christmas 2014. My daughter Emily and I were on a quiet Sunday drive through Red Hill and saw the Main Ridge Estate sign. It stirred a memory that the property was for sale, so we had a first time look-around as cellar door visitors.
I was sold from that moment, and in the following weeks we gradually shaped a plan: working out if we could afford it, asking James to come home and be the winemaker, connecting with Nat and Rose White…and convincing everyone it was a good idea to give up our ‘safe’ retirement! After many months of preparation we eventually moved on site in December 2015. We faced the challenges of a very hot Summer, being rural rookies, and a busy month in the cellar door, all tempered by the joy of a just-born first grandson!
Six vintages later, we can declare the transition to our new life on the Peninsula a great success. It has been hard work at times, and the support of Nat, the wine community and new Mornington Peninsula friends have been an inspiration. James has established himself as a winemaker, maintaining the MRE reputation for consistently excellent wines. The business has grown, and the cellar door is a popular weekend lunch venue. We have gradually made improvements to the property, building on the legacy Nat and Rose established in their forty years here.
We have a very happy and active life, and have lot’s more plans for our Main Ridge Estate ‘retirement’ in the years ahead!
MAIN RIDGE ESTATE TEAM
As a small family wine business, we all wear many hats in the vineyard, winery, garden, cellar door and office,
ably supported by a great team of casual staff and contractors.
James completed a commerce degree at The Blue Mountains Hotel School in 2006, and then embarked on a career in leading Sydney restaurants, firstly with the Merivale group, then the renowned Sepia and Oscillate Wildly. In 2011 James was the national Electrolux Young Waiter of the Year. As a sommelier and manager, James gradually developed his wine knowledge. Commencing as winemaker at Main Ridge Estate in 2015, James also started wine science degree studies at Charles Sturt University, which are now nearing completion.
Tim & Libby Sexton
Owners & Managers
Libby and Tim met at William Angliss College in Melbourne as hotel management students. After moving to London they graduated from the Westminster College Hotel school in 1977. After marriage followed forty-year corporate careers in hospitality and tourism, working in large scale catering, events, international hotels and travel, based in London, Sydney, Korea and Melbourne.
Viticulturalist and Assistant Winemaker
Linda commenced working at Main Ridge Estate 20 years ago, and thus has deep knowledge of the property and our winemaking traditions. She holds a Diploma of Wine Technology from Melbourne University’s Dookie College. Linda has been a key contributor to the successful transition of ownership of the MRE business, and is very much part of the family!
Cellar Door Manager
Josh discovered wine whilst studying music in London and Amsterdam. Alongside his orchestral performance career, Josh worked in London’s hospitality industry and in the wine trading business. Since returning to Melbourne, Josh has continued this double life of freelancing throughout Australia as a violist, and working as a sommelier at some of Melbourne’s most respected restaurants. In 2020, he began a wine science degree and in 2021 joined the Main Ridge Estate family.