795 White Hill Road, Red Hill, VIC
03 5989 2022
The Lee family name had already established itself in Melbourne’s hospitality industry when Michael and Tony Lee decided to change careers and focus solely on making wine. After owning and managing a number of restaurants in Melbourne the brothers planted their first Peninsula grape vines in 1997. Soon afterwards, Michael swapped a career in restaurant management for a career as a sparkling winemaker and Tony took on the role of still winemaker.
Foxeys Hangout Winery is built on a historic farming property in Red Hill. In planning the construction of their winery and cellar door, the brothers worked with an architect to create a one-of-a-kind space. The cellar door features large windows that let in a picture-perfect view of the vineyards in the valley below the winery. Small and intimate, Foxeys Hangout serves a range of still and sparkling wines as well as dessert and fortified wines. The winery focuses on pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay, and shiraz wines, and for two consecutive years it received the Best Wine of Show at the Victorian Wine Show.
Tony, who trained as a chef during his years as a Melbourne restaurateur, cooks in the cellar door’s open kitchen where he prepares tapas-style meals to accompany the wines. Foxeys’ dining experience is relaxed: no bookings are taken for meals and visitors can spend time tasting the wines before sitting at communal or bar-style tables to try the various dishes listed on a large chalkboard. Tony makes a select range of small, seasonal plates that may include barbecued quail or mushrooms grilled in fresh vine leaves from the vineyard. He enjoys nothing more than to prepare a chef’s menu of the day’s best dishes for visitors.
Tony sources many of his ingredients locally, such as sheep’s milk cheese from Red Hill Cheese, fresh goat’s milk curd from Main Ridge Dairy, morello cherries from Red Hill Cherry Farm, olive oil from Hart’s Farm in Main Ridge, figs from the neighbour’s tree, and pears and apples from biodynamic grower Mock Orchards.
Foxeys also runs a special customised sparkling wine program that allows visitors to venture beyond the cellar door, into the winery to get hands-on with the final stages of sparkling winemaking and add the finishing touches to a personal bottle to take home. These small-group tutorials are held by Michael at weekends – a prior appointment is essential. As part of the experience, Michael serves a number of sparkling wines that demonstrate different stylistic decisions, and you can use them as a guide to blend your own. Dry, sweet, pink? It’s up to you.
“We’re lucky to grow and make wine in an extraordinary region, where each vineyard has its own unique character,” said Tony. “Our vineyards are small,” he added. “The sites are carefully chosen, and we tend them by hand to make sure that terroir and character are expressed in every glass.” The winery procures some of its fruit from local vineyards, and it manages two vineyards of its own. In the Foxeys Hangout vineyards, Michael and Tony grow their grapes biodynamically; they do not use synthetic herbicides or pesticides.
In the winery, Michael draws inspiration from the sparkling winemakers in the Champagne region of France, and Foxeys Hangout often allows native yeasts to launch the fermentation process. The wines have won numerous gold medals and in just two years, Foxeys won seven trophies in major wine shows.
“Wine is our passion and our sole business and we live it— our home is literally metres from our vineyard,” said Tony. The cellar door is open on Saturdays and Sundays and most holidays.