Ken Cowley and mates make a country retreat, selling Tower Estate portfolio

Published 16 July 2013 09:56, Updated 18 July 2013 00:45

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Ken Cowley and mates make a country retreat, selling Tower Estate portfolio

The Peppers convent is one of the landmark Tower Estate properties up for sale.

Former News Corp Australia CEO Ken Cowley and a host of celebrities are selling off the Tower Estate portfolio of rural retreats in the Hunter Valley.

Tower Estate developed the retreats at a cost said to be $11 million in 2000.

Current and past investors include former Rothbury Estate chairman, the late Len Evans, British TV star chef Rick Stein, co-owner of Rockpool Bar & Grill David Doyle, renowned Hunter winemaker Brian McGuigan, businessmen Andrew Banks and former Newcastle Falcons basketball team owner Basil Sellers.

In 2010, the company, whose main shareholder is Cowley, splashed out about $6 million for the historic Peppers convent at Pokolbin.

Now CBRE Hotels and Jurd’s Real Estate have been appointed to market the iconic portfolio, which includes the Tower Lodge and Tower Estate Winery, Peppers Convent guesthouse and the building which houses the multi-award winning Robert’s Restaurant.

The Tower Lodge and Tower Estate Winery are situated on a 16 hectares of freehold land. The Lodge comprises 12 luxurious guest rooms, the renowned Nine Restaurant, conference facilities and heated pool, spa and sauna and a two-level manager’s apartment.

Next door is the Tower Estate ­Winery.

The complex, rated 5-star by wine writer James Halliday, includes a modern 300-tonne capacity winery and a few small vineyards. Set on a separate three hectares, there is a convent, which was built in Coonamble, western NSW. It was later moved to Pokolbin and converted to a 17-room guest house.

Tower Estate was the brainchild of Len Evans, a pioneer of the Australian wine industry, who enlisted the help of several of friends.

Following Evans’s death, Cowley’s company Strathig, which ­separately owns the Pepper Convent guesthouse, progressively acquired many of the shares and now owns more than half of the company.

Read the full version of this story on The Australian Financial Review.

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