Meet with Bec Hardy | Our Newest Producer
A vigneron following the heritage path of a six-generation wine family
Bec Hardy and her husband, Richard Dolan, established Bec Hardy Wines in May 2015, a few weeks before their daughter Matilda was born. At the time, they were looking to acquire a vineyard in McLaren Vale and they had also started talks with Bec’s parents (at Wines by Geoff Hardy) about succession of the business.
While Bec’s parents live and work at K1 in the Adelaide Hills, she and Richard have been based at the Pertaringa cellar door in McLaren Vale since 2011. The Pertaringa brand made up a majority of the Wines by Geoff Hardy wine business and with Bec’s parents in their 60s, they were looking to take a step back and focus on K1 – so it made sense for Richard and Bec to acquire the Pertaringa brand from them. On July 1, 2020, during the global Covid pandemic, Bec Hardy Wines acquired the vast majority of her dad’s business by taking over its principal brand, Pertaringa, which had just celebrated 40 years.
Richard and Bec are joint Managing Directors. While Bec is responsible for viticulture and production, Richard takes care of sales and marketing. They are supported by a multi-cultural team of four, predominantly composed of women. They can also count on the help of Matilda who joins them after kindergarten and their German shorthaired pointer who is always around greeting visitors at the cellar door.
Bec draws her inspiration from her grandmother, Dr. Barbara Hardy AO (Officer of the Order of Australia), who was keen to study wine in the 1940s. Back then, the course was only open to men and it took many years before a woman was able to study wine. “I’m very lucky to have this amazing heritage stretching back 170 years and having grown up in the wine industry. There are many inspirational people in the Hardy family, not least the original Thomas Hardy who established Hardys in 1853. His determination, creative thinking and hard work led to the creation of a company that, while he still ran it, was the largest exporter of wine in Australia. By the 1980s, it was the world’s largest wine brand” states Bec.
Bec’s Tipsy Hill property is home to one of the most renowned private gardens in South Australia and now encloses one of Australia’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards. In addition to making their first Tipsy Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (coincidentally included in the current offering), they are also cultivating small parcels of vines under the Bec Hardy label with the hope this brand will grow alongside Pertaringa.
As custodians of the brand, they have put an increased emphasis on building a long-term brand before passing it on to Matilda. “We’re committed to continuous improvement across every aspect of the business and an increased emphasis on greater levels of social responsibility as we grow. Our passion for nature grows every year and we continue to do all we can to save, restore and protect our environment and reduce our footprint.” As a result, Bec has been giving back through the Nature Foundation by sitting on the Board of Directors. The organization was founded in 1981 by four Adelaide business personalities, including her grandmother Dr Barbara Hardy AO.
When we asked Bec what she would like Opimian Members to know about them in this new venture, she answers: “Richard and I are incredibly grateful for the opportunity my parents have given us. Working with dad really gave us a chance to learn who we wanted to be and what we stood for in the world of Australian wine. And you’ll begin to see more of what’s important to us as we take the business into the next 40 years.”
Can you please introduce yourself, the team and the winery?
Bec Hardy Wines was born in 2015, just weeks before our daughter Matilda was born and a handful of months before we acquired the Tipsy Hill vineyard and gardens in McLaren Vale. My husband, Richard Dolan, and I are joint Managing Directors and split the workload along the lines of viticulture and production (me) and sales and marketing (Richard). While we’re basically together 24/7, it works incredibly well and we love being around each other – lucky us! Matilda joins us after kindergarten and Churchill (our German Shorthaired Pointer) is always around greeting visitors at the cellar door too.
Our Operations Manager Blakeley is originally from New Jersey, but has lived between the UK and Australia for the last 23 years. Our PR & Communications Manager Hanne is from Norway and has worked at Pertaringa (now in the Bec Hardy portfolio) since 2007. Our CFO Milena moved to Australia from Serbia as a child and is currently on maternity leave with her second child – we look forward to her return early next year! Our China Sales Manager Xianrui is from Chongqing in the Sichuan Province of China. Richard is originally from Yorkshire and came to Australia in 2002…. so I am actually the only person at Bec Hardy Wines who was born in Australia!
The Hardy name has been synonymous with South Australian wine since the 1850s. How do you feel about pursuing that tradition?
I’m very lucky to have this amazing heritage stretching back 170 years and having grown up in the wine industry. There are many inspirational people in the Hardy family, not least the original Thomas Hardy who established Hardys in 1853. His determination, creative thinking and hard work lead to the creation of a company that, while he still ran it, was the largest exporter of wine in Australia. By the 1980s, it was the world’s largest wine brand.
Reading the stories about Thomas Hardy and what he did in the late 1880s is amazing. Not only was he a pioneer of Australian wine, he shared that learning within the new colony of South Australia and therefore became known as the ‘Father of the South Australia wine industry.’ Sadly, there’s no longer a family connection with the major Hardy brand so it is up to the 5th and 6th generations to take the real Hardy family’s wines to the world.
Is there anything that you’d like to do differently?
Oh, so much! As custodians of the brand for the next 30 years, Richard and I have put an increased emphasis on building a long-term brand before we pass it to Matilda. We are also encouraging an emphasis on a great culture, mutually beneficial relationships and a strong ethical focus on honesty and integrity in all we do. We’re committed to continuous improvement across very aspect of the business as we grow and an increased emphasis on greater levels of social responsibility and giving back through our partnership with Nature Foundation.
Nature is very important to Richard and me so this will be more of a focus for us, both in business and in our personal lives. Our cellar door and the garden at Tipsy Hill is reflective of this with a lot of native Australian plants, plenty of birdlife and a more natural and homely feel. The passion Richard and I share for nature grows every year and we continue to do all we can to save, restore and protect our native environment and reduce our footprint.
Was it easy to fly on your own?
I certainly haven’t felt on my own as I have an amazing partner in Richard. We both complement each other perfectly, both in business and at home. He is the driven one with the ideas, he is always thinking about work and how things can be done differently and how we can improve. We also have an amazing team of people we work with, and we’re lucky to have a strong and loyal customer following of Pertaringa and of the Hardy family in general that we helped build as part of dad’s business. Finally, we’re also lucky to have the support of some wonderful global distributors in places like Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, China and, of course, Canada.
When did you realize that producing wine was your passion?
I have always loved being outside in nature and growing things. When I was a child I had an area of the garden that I could look after and I often grew vegetables there. At school, I filled out a job prospect questionnaire and the top result came back as landscape gardener — it was at that point that I decided studying viticulture would unite my love of growing plants with my family’s history in wine.
When did you harvest for the first time?
I harvested grapes on many occasions growing up, but I picked the first grapes from our own Tipsy Hill vineyard in 2016 with Matilda on my back because she was only 8 months old.
Among the Bec Hardy wines, which one was your first one that you produced?
Technically the Tipsy Hill 2016 with dad’s help through the Wines by Geoff Hardy business. Completely on our own, it would be the Bec Hardy Premium Sparkling NV.
Can you explain the Bec Hardy Wines logo? What is the meaning of the bird?
The Bec Hardy Wines logo and labels have been inspired by the flora and fauna at my Tipsy Hill property. The vineyard was planted in 1999 and is beautifully set on almost three hectares of terraced land. In addition to the vineyard, the property also has a stunning garden that features the rare Tipsy Imperial Concubine Rose from where the name Tipsy Hill originates. As well as this intoxicating rose, the gardens contain a wide collection of flora and fauna, some of which is represented in the Tipsy Hill pattern. A regular visitor in the garden is the distinctive red-browed finch, and this cheeky and social bird was therefore adopted for the Bec Hardy logo.
What is your favourite wine? What bottle is open in your kitchen right now?
For me, it’s the Bec Hardy Pinot Gris 2020. It’s such a flavorsome, textural wine with a great mouthfeel and real viscosity on the palate. For Richard, he’s into the Bec Hardy Barossa Shiraz 2017 as it’s not something we’ve had a lot of access to in recent years. This one and our Pertaringa ‘Understudy’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 are his go-to wines at the moment.
Describe your philosophy in one word or sentence.
Our core values are everything to us – honesty and integrity in all that we do.
Wine Suggestions from the Team at Bec Hardy Wines
Bec Hardy, Owner and Managing Director: I’m so excited to add the Bec Hardy Premium Sparkling to my range – every portfolio needs a good sparkling wine and this Chardonnay / Pinot Noir blend offers elegant notes of green apples, strawberries and citrus, complemented by crisp acidity and a refreshing finish.
Richard Dolan, Owner and Managing Director: I’m actually really enjoying the Clare Valley Riesling at the moment, it’s a great example of the wonderfully fresh and vibrant Rieslings this region produces with delicate floral aromas and clean, zingy notes of lemon and lime.
Blakeley Davies, Logistics Manager: It’s so exciting to have a Shiraz from the iconic Barossa Valley, which is a region we haven’t featured a lot in our portfolio before. This wine has benefited from a couple of years of ageing and is drinking beautifully at the moment with lots of cherries and other red berries, as well as notes of spice and fine tannins.
Xianrui Zeng, Export Manager: Our single vineyard Tipsy Hill Cabernet Sauvignon is from Bec’s own vineyard and is drinking amazingly at the moment with complex notes of blackberries, cassis, violets, tobacco and mocha, followed by a long, structured and impressive palate.
Hanne Norvag Thomas, Communications Manager: I’m really enjoying the Bec Hardy Pinot Gris, it’s such a refreshing white wine with notes of pears and citrus that goes well with so many different foods. And it’s also the perfect wine for the warmer days as we head into spring and summer in Australia!