Nestled within the picturesque McLaren Vale wine region in South Australia, Hardys Tintara winery stands as a testament to the rich history and enduring legacy of Australian winemaking. Established in 1861 by the visionary Dr. Alexander Charles Kelly, Tintara has weathered the test of time, producing wines that have not only earned global acclaim but have also become an integral part of Australia’s winemaking narrative.
Dr. Alexander Kelly, a physician and winemaker, laid the foundation for Tintara in 1861, incorporating it the following year as the Tintara Vineyard Company. A man of diverse talents, Kelly authored seminal texts on Australian winemaking and viticulture, solidifying his place in the annals of wine history. Notable figures in the early history of South Australia, such as Walter Watson Hughes, Samuel Davenport, and Thomas Elder, invested in Tintara, recognizing its potential to become a cornerstone of the burgeoning Australian wine industry.
Tintara’s historical significance is further underscored by its claim to fame—the production of the oldest surviving bottle of Australian wine, an 1867 Tintara Vineyard claret. This distinction arose when the previous record holder, an 1864 bottle of Pewsey Vale Cabernet Sauvignon, met an unfortunate end at the hands of a careless office cleaner at Christie’s auction house.
Dr. Alexander Kelly’s journey from a medical practitioner to a pioneering winemaker is a compelling tale. Born in Dunbar, Scotland, in 1811, Kelly emigrated to South Australia in 1840, driven by a passion for both medicine and viticulture. His early years were dedicated to medical practice, but a fascination with grape growing led him to plant the first vines in McLaren Vale in 1845, establishing the “Trinity” vineyard. The allure of winemaking eventually took precedence over medicine, and in 1861, he founded Tintara winery.
Kelly’s commitment to viticulture extended beyond his personal pursuits, as evidenced by his book, “The Vine in Australia,” which went on sale in 1861. This same year, Tintara winery emerged as one of the first commercial wineries in McLaren Vale, boasting initial plantings of 210 acres and a subsequent wave of plantings in 1864. Varieties such as Mataro (Mourvèdre), Shiraz, Grenache, and Carignan thrived in McLaren Vale’s conducive environment.
In 1877, the property changed hands as Thomas Hardy, who had founded Hardys Wines in 1853, acquired Tintara along with 27,000 imperial gallons of wine from Kelly. This marked the beginning of a new era for Tintara under the stewardship of Thomas Hardy, who went on to become the largest winemaker in the colony by 1894.
The Hardy family’s journey, marked by resilience and innovation, unfolded over the decades. Thomas Hardy’s strategic acquisitions and leadership led to the establishment of Thomas Hardy & Sons by 1887, solidifying his legacy as the “father of the wine industry in South Australia.” The family persevered through challenges, including the loss of Thomas Hardy’s youngest son, Robert Cyril, on the French battlefields during World War I.
Tragedy struck again when Tom Mayfield Hardy, a member of the third generation, lost his life in a plane crash on 25 October 1938. The Kyeema, an Australian National Airways Douglas DC-2, flying from Adelaide to Melbourne, commenced final approach to Essendon Airport through heavy fog and crashed into the western slopes of Mount Dandenong, also known as Mount Corhanwarrabul, killing all 18 on board instantly.
Hardy’s widow Eileen emerged as a symbol of strength and resilience in the Australian winemaking community. Taking on the role of brand ambassador for Hardys Wines, Eileen became affectionately known as ‘Auntie Eileen’ among wine enthusiasts.
The narrative of Tintara and the Hardy family continued through subsequent generations, with the fourth generation taking the helm in 1965. However, by 1992, the landscape of Hardys Wines underwent a significant transformation. Exploring new regions in Australia and abroad, the company went public and merged with Berri Renmano Ltd. in 1992 to form what then became Australia’s second largest wine group, BRL Hardy Limited. In 2003, the brands of BRL Hardy and those of Constellation Brands were merged to create the world’s largest international wine business. BRL Hardy Limited was renamed The Hardy Wine Company, which became Accolade Wines in 2011 through further sales, mergers, and acquisitions.
McLaren Vale is a region renowned for its wine production, particularly for red wines like Shiraz, Grenache, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The diverse terroir, consisting of sandy soils, red-brown earth, and limestone, contributes to the complexity of wines produced in the region.
The commitment to sustainability in McLaren Vale is evident, with wineries adopting environmentally friendly practices. Water conservation, energy efficiency, and organic or biodynamic farming are integral aspects of the region’s viticulture.
This bottle has a screw cap. Nothing wrong with that, as is somewhat common in Australian wines; even more so those from New Zealand. It pours a medium, transparent purple, with aromas of cherries and other red fruit on the nose. On the palate, more defined flavors of red and black cherry emerge, rather than the blueberry and cassis more common in Cabernet Sauvignon, supported by moderate, dusty tannins and balanced acidity. With its somewhat recessive fruit, I would characterize this as an Old World style of wine even though it comes from the New. ABV is 14.0%.
Top of page: https://winervana.com/blog/