Bill Hardy (1950-)
Great-great-grandson of eminent South Australian vigneron Thomas Hardy (1830-1912), Bill Hardy was the first Australian to study at the prestigious University of Bordeaux. He graduated with distinction with the Diplôme national d’œnologie, completing a vintage at the historic Château Bouscaut in the Graves district as practical experience.
On his return to Australia, Bill transferred his understanding and appreciation of French practices to Hardys winemaking, introducing the Bordeaux custom of rotating barrels at the end of the malolactic fermentation as a way of reducing oxygenation, as well as egg white fining, at that time uncommon in Australia, to produce softer, less tannic wines.
From early 1991 to the end of 1994, Bill was general manager of Domaine de la Baume vineyard in the Languedoc region of southern France. Hardys had bought the propery in run-down condition in order to produce varietally-labelled wines for the British market and promptly installed modern Australian-style winemaking facilities. whose capacity far exceeded la Baume’s modest yield. Bill’s solution was to persuade local growers, who would traditionally have made their own wine or sold grapes to the local cooperative, to change their ways, offering higher prices and prompt payment for harvests directed to la Baume.
Another innovation was the introduction of night harvesting, a practice already common in Australia. Bill gradually overcame the initial reluctance of the operators by working with them and by communicating with growers, assuring them that night-harvested grapes would make better wine than their neighbours’ traditional practices.
Bill remains active in the Australian wine industry while also serving as an international wine judge, most recently at the Vinalies Internationales wine competitions in Paris.