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Bec Hardy Wines: A legacy of innovation and sustainability

Richard Dolan, director of sales and marketing at Bec Hardy Wines, discusses the company’s success and growth, backed by multi-generational talent Bec Hardy. 

Nestled in the heart of Australia’s wine country lies a legacy spanning six generations, embodied by Bec Hardy, a name synonymous with innovation and sustainability in winemaking. 

Richard Dolan and his wife, Bec Hardy, a sixth-generation member of the renowned Hardy wine family, share the story of their legacy spanning back to the 1850s in South Australia when the Hardy family help establish the South Australian wine region.  

Image: Bec Hardy Wines

Hardy’s parents ventured into their own wine business in 1980, and in 2011, Dolan and Hardy joined the family enterprise. 

In July 2020, they took over the majority ownership, marking the latest generational shift of the family

Hardy, as the first female vintner in her family, drew inspiration from strong matriarchal figures such as Dr. Barbara Hardy AO, an influential environmentalist, when stepping into the role that had been waiting for her. 

“The family and the company have a truly unique history and heritage,” said Dolan. 

“Hardy’s have been making vine in South Australia since the 1850s. Hardy’s great-great-great grandfather is regarded as the father of the South Australian wine industry, which is a unique history and heritage in the space.” 

Dolan said he and Hardy were extremely proud to be the latest custodians of the family business. 

The family’s commitment to sustainability is evident in their wine production, with efforts to minimise environmental impact at every stage. 

Initiatives include biodiversity projects, partnerships with conservation organizations, and even embracing native wildlife on their vineyard premises.

This focus on environmentalism was another long-established part of the family business, thanks in no small part to the leaders who came before. 

“Dr Hardy helped start a foundation that has helped converse large swaths of land in South Australia, a piece of land the size of Luxemburg,” said Dolan. 

“That heritage, not only in wine, but in conservation and environmentalism is why sustainability plays a significant role in our business.” 

Image: Bec Hardy Wines

Dolan said a focus on sustainability and environmentalism was always an ongoing enterprise. 

“For us, it’s a journey not a destination. There’s always more to do and more you can do,” he said. 

“We might not be doing 100 per cent of what we are capable of with an unlimited budget and resources, but we are doing everything we can to lighten our footprint at every stage of the production process. 

“Whether that’s the vineyards, bottling, labelling, our use of dry goods, packaging transport. All of that, everything, it comes down to a consideration for the natural environment and habitat.” 

Bec Hardy Wines also works closely with local organisations and key stakeholders when it comes to identifying the right solutions around improved biodiversity and sustainability.

“We have been improving the biodiversity at our vineyards through local partnerships which has seen us plant 1200 new natives at one of our vineyards. Which also helps provide a corridor for wildlife,” said Dolan. 

“We sponsor organisations such as the Nature Foundation and Koala Life, which aims to breed a disease-free population of koalas.”

Thinking outside the box, while consulting with local flora and fauna experts has proven to be an invaluable tool for the Hardy family’s environmentalist goals.  

“Even just around Cellar Door, we have had to put a sign up because as part of improving our biodiversity we have a population of native bush rats, which are native to the area and play an important role in the local habitat,” said Dolan. 

“It’s amazing what happens when you give nature a helping hand.” 

Another example of how Bec Hardy Wines adapts to the local environment and aims to be as sustainable as possible, where possible, is through the use of sheep to help graze and clear away invasive weeds. 

“The sheep are consuming weeds,
a lot of which are introduced in the area. The sheep form a great function in the vineyard especially during winter,” said Dolan.  

“After the prep pruner goes in July, we send 20 sheep into a vineyard. 

This approach also lends itself to the generational scope with which Dolan and the rest of the family look at the business. 

Image: Bec Hardy Wines

Dolan said the multi-generational aspect of Bec Hardy Wines is something they want to continue to build upon for the next generation, to continue the family legacy. 

“Our vision is to build the company up even more and we have set a 25-year time frame for the transition the next generation of Hardy’s,” he said. 

“Everything we do has a generational objective, to leave the business in a better financial and sustainable position for that next generation to usher forward. 

“This is great because, unlike a lot of corporates, we have short- and medium-term profitability to consider but we are equally taking a generational view, whether that be in vineyard acquisition or management.” 

This forward-thinking approach, with an eye on heritage, has also helped Bec Hardy Wines build a strong and unique local presence.  

“Bec’s father is one of the country’s leading viticulturists, and he knows the soil in McLaren Vale as well as anybody, and its this sort of local knowledge which is passed down from generation to generation,” said Dolan. 

“It’s often interesting when you listen to the stories from everyone who’s lived in the area for multiple generations, all of them have a connection to the land and passing on knowledge is very important.” 

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