Ben Gray, Dion Hershan splash $9.7m on T'Gallant winery
The T’Gallant Winery and cellar door will open again in 2023 after being renovated.

Ben Gray, Dion Hershan splash $9.7m on T'Gallant winery

Prominent Melbourne fund managers Ben Gray and Dion Hershan have joined forces to buy one of the Mornington Peninsula’s top boutique wineries, T’Gallant Wines in Main Ridge from wine giant Treasury Wine Estates.

Property records show the pair’s HG Estates paid $9.73 million for the 15.6ha property at 1385 Mornington-Flinders Road, including 8ha of vineyards set among the rolling hills of the Mornington Peninsula hinterland.

T’Gallant was founded in the early 1990s when husband-and-wife winemakers Kevin McCarthy and Kathleen Quealy acquired a Main Ridge apple orchard and converted it into the country’s first major pinot grigio and pinot gris vineyard, Their success at making wines known for their citrus flavours and zesty acidity sparked an explosion of pinot plantings across Australia.

T’Gallant was acquired for more than $3 million in 2003 by Foster’s wine division, which split and listed as Treasury Wine Estates in 2011.

Both the popular winery and pizzeria restaurant have been closed since April. TWE tried to sell T’Gallant in 2015, after not proceeding with plans to expand the restaurant.

Treasury Wine Estates CEO Tim Ford said the company would continue to produce the T’Gallant range of wines.

“In October, TWE completed the sale of T’Gallant on the Mornington Peninsula to financial investors, who will licence the brand to re-open the T’Gallant cellar door and restaurant in 2023,” Mr Ford said.

Mr Gray, a founding partner of private equity firm BGH Capital, which is lining up a bid for pub group Australian Venue Co, and Mr Hershan, executive chairman and head of equities at fund manager Yarra Capital, declined to comment.

Gray’s Portsea mansion

The winery is a 20-minute drive from Mr Gray’s Portsea mansion Westbank, which he purchased for $30 million in January, setting a record on the Mornington Peninsula.

The popular holiday and lifestyle destination less than two hours from Melbourne, is considered one of the country’s premier cool climate wine growing regions.

It’s home to a number of prominent wineries and vineyards including the Pt Leo Estate in Merricks, which is owned by Rich Lister John Gandel and his family, the Paringa Estate in Red Hill and the Main Ridge Estate (also in Red Hill).

Sales of Mornington wineries this year include Accolade’s Stonier Wines in Merricks, which was purchased for more than $10 million by another local producer Circe Wines owned by the Drummond, McLeod and Thickin families.

In May former Rich Lister Radek Sali sold his hobby farm in Flinders, which includes a 4.5ha organic vineyard, for $23.5 million to Czech energy billionaire Pavel Tykac and his wife Ivana.

“The market in the Mornington Peninsula wine region remains strong, largely underpinned by the strong rural lifestyle market due to the Peninsula’s proximity to Melbourne and popular beach destinations,” wrote Herron Todd White valuer John Gunthorpe in the firm’s latest monthly report.

“Recent significant transactions include the well-known boutique Eldridge Estate [in Red Hill] which sold for $6.435 million,” Mr Gunthorpe said.

The buyers were new entrants Elli Tutungi, a Melbourne cardiac anaesthetist and his wife Vicki, a director at Navitec Medical.