When 2 million glasses of your wine are consumed everyday around the world in more than 80 countries, your brand is the most powerful wine brand in Australia and the biggest selling Australian wine brand in the UK, does that make you even a wee bit conceited. No, not if you are William or Bill hardy as he is known in the wine world. One of the most respected winemakers of Australia, this 5th generation scion of the Hardy family, creators of Australia’s iconic wine brand Hardys Wines, Bill Hardy is extremely proud of his family’s wine-making heritage going back 160 years and their pivotal role in developing the premium wine regions of the state. After all how many wine brands can boast of such a long history. But other than a hint of pride there is nothing in the demeanour of this indefatigable and utterly charming great-great grandson of the brand’s founder Thomas Hardy, to suggest the important place he commands in the wine hierarchy. Such is his humility.
I got a chance to meet Bill Hardy when Prarrthona Pal Chowdhury, Head of Marketing International Brands for Sula Selections, the company which imports and distributes Hardys Wines in India, invited me to attend a Wine Masterclass conducted by him for F&B professionals and a few media personnel at ITC Maurya, New Delhi. Armed with a lot of statistics but in an easy conversational style Bill Hardy told us how from a country which had no native grape varieties, in just 200 years Australia has become the world’s 5th largest exporter of wine.
Talking about the history and growth of Hardys wines he said that it was in the year 1857 that his great great grandfather Thomas Hardy, known as the father of South Australian wine industry, exported his first vintage to Devon, UK, a country whose shores he had left as a 20 year old in 1850. In 1882 Thomas Hardy made history by producing the first ever Australian wine to be awarded the prestigious gold medal at the International Wine show in Bordeaux. Since then they have won a total of 6953 awards which include gold, silver, bronze and commendations across all ranges. It is the official wine partner to both Cricket Australia and England Cricket. The two foes on the cricket field are united by Hardys Wines. It is no more a family concern now as the family relinquished control in 1992 and merged with Berri Romano to become a public business. In 2003 it merged with Constellation Brands to become the biggest wine company in the world. In 2011 the company was sold to the Autralian private equity firm Champ which was later renamed Accolade wines. Hardys Wines now forms a part of Accolade Wines, a global wine company and William Hardy is their employee as well as their brand ambassador.
In the Masterclass Bill Hardy discussed the characteristics and tasting notes of Hardys Stamp of Australia range of wines available in India: Hardys Sparkling (70% Chardonnay 30% Pinot Noir), Semillion-Chardonay (a non-traditional blend), Riesling-Gewurztraminer (an aromatic off dry wine which goes well with Indian food) Cabernet-Merlot (a classic Bordeaux blend), and Shiraz-Cabernet (popular Australian blend). These wines are above their entry level Varietal Range and are very approachable. This was an invaluable lesson for the F&B professional and sommeliers where they were told at what temperature to serve the wines and the suggested food pairings.
At the Wine dinner which followed at Le Meridien Gurgaon, Bill Hardy unveiled the latest William Hardy range which was launched in 2013 to mark the brand’s 160 years of winemaking and to honor and recognize 40 hard years of hard work which Bill has put in the winery. Made of two varietals Chardonnay and Shiraz it sits above Hardys core group mainstream sub-brands Nottage Hill, Crest, Stamp of Australia and VR. In the words of Chief Winemaker Paul Lapsley they are “wines with a varietal personality and regional identity” They will be launched in India very soon.
The other members of the Hardys family who have had wines named after them are the founder Thomas Hardy, Eileen Hardy, first woman in South Australia to fly a plane, Sir James and Thomas Hardy Nottage (2nd generation member of the Hardys clan).
Bill Hardy’s visit to India was in keeping with the efforts to revitalize the brand in India and improve its position by creating more awareness about Hardys wines. It was indeed an honour and a privilege to learn from such a fine winemaker and a highly successful entrepreneur yet someone who wears his success so lightly.
By : Lavina Kharkwal
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