Our Heritage

Gittisham, Devon

1830

BORN ON THE FARM

The story of Hardys begins with the very man who gave us his name, Thomas Hardy, born in the tiny village of Gittisham, in Devon, England, one of generations of Hardys who lived and farmed in the Devon countryside.

A young Thomas Hardy

Extract from Thomas Hardy’s diary

The British Empire

1850

Opportunity beckons

Thomas always could sense a great opportunity and he saw just that in the colonies, so, at the age of 20, with only £30 in his pocket, Thomas took ship to Australia on the ‘British Empire’.

“Twelve months ago I was in London, and expected to have been on the road to America by this time, but my mind was changed… Whether it is for the best or the worst remains to be seen. One thing I can say, I have not regretted going this way… If I have my health I do not fear.”

From Thomas Hardy’s diary that he kept on board the ‘British Empire’ ship to Australia

Rundle Street, Adelaide. State Library of South Australia - B 2898

Bankside Cellars 1874

1853

Land of his own

After working hard in his first years in Adelaide, including with William Reynell, the first winemaker in South Australia, Thomas was finally able to buy land of his own on the banks of the River Torrens, aptly named ‘Bankside’, where Hardys Wines was born.

Bankside Homestead and cellars 1874

Upper Tintara vineyard, site of original Tintara winery

1876

Right place at the right time

The Tintara Vineyards Company came up for sale just as Thomas was looking to expand. Established in 1861, and now bankrupt, this McLaren Vale winery had great potential. Thomas bought Tintara on the spot, sold all the wine and essentially got himself a new winery for nothing.

Workers at the original Tintara winery

“Mr. Hardy is nothing if not observant and enterprising, and one cannot help being struck with the effective way in which natural difficulties which might have been insurmountable to other individuals have been overcome.”

A contemporary journalist, 1878

Pickers at McLaren Vale

James + Thomas Nathaniel Hardy

Robert Burrough Hardy

1887

A Family Business

By 1887, Thomas’ sons were all grown up and ready to start with the business, and so Hardys Wines became Thomas Hardy & Sons, welcoming sons James, Thomas Nathaniel and Robert to lead the business into the next century.

Thomas Hardy & Sons letterhead

Mile End Cellars 1894

1904

Up in Flames

By 1900, Thomas Hardy and Sons was the largest winemaker in South Australia, so when Thomas’ original winery at Bankside burnt to the ground in 1904, it could have been a devastating blow, but Thomas took it in his stride, moving on to his new larger site at Mile End.

Aftermath of the Bankside fire in 1904

Thomas Hardy in his later years

Thomas tending to his vines

1912

Death of a Legend

Two days shy of his 82nd birthday, Thomas passed away. From the young man who boarded the ship in 1850 with £30 to his name, to the father of the South Australian wine industry, his vision, perseverance and sheer hard work had built a company to last.

“Generally regarded as the father of the wine industry in South Australia, he was a grand pioneer who came to Australia as a young man and by his unbounded energy built up business which is known in both hemispheres and which played an important part in winning for the central State such pre-eminence as the producer of wine.”

The Register Newspaper at the time of Thomas Hardy’s death

Kenneth T Hardy

1916

Surviving the War

Thomas’ youngest son Robert took over the business just before WWI as his son Robert Cyril, and cousin Tom Mayfield both enlisted. Tragically Robert Cyril lost his life on the French battlefields, leaving only two third generation members to continue the business, including Robert’s son Ken.

Tom Mayfield Hardy during WWI

Tom Mayfield Hardy

Eileen Hardy

1938

Losing a Leader

Tragedy struck again in 1938 when Tom Mayfield Hardy was killed in the Kyeema plane crash, leaving behind widow Eileen and four young children. Eileen, a woman of immense character and fortitude, immediately stepped up, taking on a role with Hardys that would define the rest of her life.

Bacchus Club visitors after the unveiling of the Centenary plaque

1953

Celebrating 100 years

By the centenary, the Hardy family had a lot to celebrate, and that they did, with week-long celebrations stretching from McLaren Vale, through the Barossa, all the way to the Riverland.

Eileen Hardy with Tom Nottage

Centenary luncheon 16 April 1953

Sir James Hardy photographed by Lord Snowdon at Tintara

Delivery to the Hardy’s Currie Street offices

1965

Four Generations

By 1965, the fourth generation of the Hardy family was now on board, with Tom Mayfield’s eldest son Thomas Walter taking over the running of the company, and siblings David, Pam and Jim, as well as Ken’s son Bob.

Eileen Hardy unveils a plaque with sons (L-R) Jim, Thomas Walter, David and second cousin Bob (2nd from left)

Eileen with son Jim and daughter Pam after receiving her OBE

1973

The Matriarch receives her dues

Eileen’s four children decided to celebrate their mother’s 8oth Birthday with the best wine in the company, the first Eileen Hardy Shiraz. An accolade only briefly eclipsed by the Order of the British Empire she received from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 1976.

Eileen in her favourite place, with a glass of Champagne on board a boat

“I knew Aunty Eileen…as one of the most engaging personalities of Australian wine…I met her during my first Australian wine days. Though I was of no consequence, she took tremendous interest in what was happening and gave encouragement far beyond any normal commercial interest. She was always lively, full of fun, totally interested in people, their jobs and families, and she really cared.”

Len Evans

Thomas Walter Hardy

Eileen Hardy

1980

Tragedy strikes again

As the 1980s dawned however, the Hardy family received a double blow, firstly with the loss of Eileen herself in April, then her eldest son Thomas Walter, who died of cancer in December of the same year. With the fifth generation only just joining the company, it was a difficult time.

Eileen Hardy photographed by Lord Snowdon on Seacliff beach.

Chateau Reynella

1982

Chateau Reynella

Before Thomas Walter passed, he put forward the idea of moving to Chateau Reynella, the site of Thomas Hardy's first job in 1850, not far from McLaren Vale. After purchasing the heritage site in 1982, Hardys put prodigious effort into restoring the beautiful building and grounds.

Cellar One, Australia’s oldest operating cellar

The team behind the Jimmy Watson trophy win for Hardy’s, including Tim James, David O’Leary, Geoff Weaver, Bill Hardy

Domaine de la Baume winery in the Languedoc, France

1992

Exploring new regions

Enjoying great success, Hardys Wines explored new regions in Australia, and abroad, including wineries in France and Italy. It was a costly time, so Hardys Wines went public. This led to the company leaving family hands and merging with Riverland based wine company Berri Renmano Ltd.

David, Pam, Jim and Bob Hardy at the 150th celebration

2003

International success

As Hardys celebrated its 150th anniversary, Hardys Wines was travelling to over 130 countries worldwide, with 2 million glasses of Hardys Wines drunk every single day. Hardys Wines was named the number one Australian wine brand, and the second most powerful wine brand globally.

The extended Hardy family at the 150th celebration

150th family celebration

“The Hardy wine empire is preparing to celebrate its 150th year since Thomas Hardy planted his first vineyard on the outskirts of Adelaide. More than 7.6 million cases of wine are now sold worldwide under the Hardy's brand each year that equates to a bottle being bought every four seconds… Old Thomas Hardy would be very proud of how far his company has reached.”

ABC National Rural News, 2003

A photo of the original cellar at Hardys Tintara

The modern day, state of the art Hardys Tintara cellar

2005

Old becomes new

It was time for the old cellars at Hardys Tintara to move into the modern age, embracing the very same principles Thomas Hardy himself used, Cellar 8 was renovated to become the most advanced open fermentation cellar in the southern hemisphere.

Cellar 8, Hardys Tintara open fermentation cellar

Fortified Room

2016

Restoring the home of Hardys

Hardys gave some of the oldest parts of the winery a new lease of life. The Thomas Hardy room bringing to life the old Mill building and barrel cellar, the Winery Viewing Platform opening Cellar 8 to the public, and the Fortified room, storing Hardys long history for visitors.

Viewing Platform

Thomas Hardy Room

Present Day

Looking Ahead

Hardys Wines are proud to continue “to produce wines which will be prized in the markets of the world” just as our founder had envisioned. Our home, at Hardys Tintara, lives and breathes the Hardy legacy, so that around the world people can enjoy Hardys Wines for many years to come.