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Sir James Hardy a true wine icon

By Friday 16 June 2023No Comments

Australian wine industry icon Sir James Hardy OBE has died in Adelaide at the age of 90.

Sir James was known as “Gentleman Jim” in wine and yachting circles.

His great grandfather Sir Thomas Hardy founded Hardys Wines 170 years ago.

Sir James Hardy was Tom and Eileen Hardy’s youngest child.

Tom was appointed chairman of Thomas Hardy & Sons in 1924.

He was one of those killed near Mount Dandenong in the Kyeema plane disaster in 1938.

Sir James Hardy joined the company in 1953 – the centenary year – and worked as a shipping clerk and in other roles before moving to Sydney as director and manager of NSW.

A world-class yachtsman, James represented Australia at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 1964 and the Mexico Olympic Games in 1968.

He skippered Australia’s America’s Cup Challenges in 1970, 1974 and 1980 and was a key advisor for the Australia II crew that ended America’s 132-year dominance in 1983.

Hardy also competed in 13 Sydney-to-Hobart races.

Sir James Hardy and Lady Joan Hardy. Photo: The Advertiser.

James was knighted by Queen Elizabeth and became Sir James Hardy in 1981.

The Sir James sparkling wine range was released in his honour in the late 1980s.

The Hardys brand is now part of Accolade Wines, owned by US private equity firm the Carlyle Group.

“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Sir James passing,” Accolade says in a statement.

“Sir James joined the company in 1953 and he remained a devoted brand ambassador for Hardys right up until this year.

“His recent visit to our Sydney office was recalled fondly by our team and from all reports his charm, wit and flair for telling a great yarn were undiminished.

“He chatted for a couple of hours with the team and signed his book An Adventurous Life – a memento of a life lived to the fullest that we will cherish and ensure takes its rightful place at our home at Tintara in the McLaren Vale.

“While Sir James is perhaps best known for his sailing and Olympic achievements, we would like to honour his immeasurable contribution to the Australian wine industry and for faithfully continuing the legacy of Hardys Wines that his great grandfather Sir Thomas Hardy founded 170 years ago.”

Sir James was born in Seacliff and went to school at St Peter’s College.

He is survived by his wife, Joan, brother David, sister Pamela and sons David and Richard.

Sir James Hardy joins other families to remember those killed in the Kyeema air disaster.


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