From Start To Finish

Perfecting the art of winemaking is no easy feat – but goes hand-in-hand with creating a flavoursome wine. April Davis enlists the expert knowledge of Hardys Tintara brand ambassador, William Hardy, to establish just how important the winemaking process is in creating a mouth-watering vintage.

When Thomas Hardy first relocated from England to South Australia in 1850, he had no idea of the impact this fruitful region would have on both his life and the lives of his family for generations to come. Flash forward more than 160 years and Hardy has transformed the 30 pounds in his back pocket into Hardys Tintara, one of Australia’s largest producers of quality wine.

Here, Wineries of South Australia delves into the company’s rich history to break down the complexities of the winemaking process and uncover the secrets behind its premier reds.


William Hardy first developed an interest in winemaking while studying agricultural science at the University of Adelaide. It was here that he first became intrigued by the winemaking process and started to understand how the process is both an art form and a science.

“The whole idea of winemaking being a mixture of art and science, which demands an understanding of viticulture, biology and biochemistry greatly appeals to me,” he says.

His passion and knowledge then grew through his studies at the Universite de Bordeaux, where he obtained the Diplome d’Oneologue, which is the French national qualification in winemaking. Here, he learned all about the art of producing a premier quality wine. According to Hardy, in its simplest form, winemaking is essentially the fermentation of grapes into an alcoholic beverage.

“The winemaking process is primarily aimed at extracting colour, tannin and flavour from the fruit, encouraging yeast to ferment natural sugars into alcohol. From here, the wine is gently transferred to a bottle where it will be aged to ensure the smells and flavours are maximised for the drinker’s enjoyment.”

Expert knowledge and execution during this process is how high-quality wines are created; more specifically, those that stimulate the senses through impeccable structure, texture and balance.


A successful and delicious vintage is determined by the climate, quality grapes and the proper equipment – but to what extent does tender, loving care play a role?

Vigilance should be practiced through each stage of the winemaking process because the procedures and recipes followed by the winemaker will significantly impact the overall quality of the wine.

For Hardy, ‘respecting the grape’ is an essential consideration for all of Hardy Tintara's wines.

“Our winemakers see their role as nurturing the expression of the varietal and regional characteristics brought to the wine from its vineyard.”

Nurturing the grapes from the day they’re planted until the day they’re transformed into a palatable vintage will fortify the wine against any undesirable flavours and colours, which is why the role of a winemaker is a vital one!


The processes undertaken by each winemaker are fundamental to the intrinsic quality of a wine, and any differences in method will produce a very different sort of vintage. Here, we outline some of the basic principles of winemaking.


Winemaking always begins with harvesting the fruit. As far as Hardy is concerned the backbone of a great wine is made up of its ingredients.

“Great wines are made from great fruit, always! Choosing the right time to pick the grapes is essential in optimising the flavour, structure and balance of the wine. It’s also important to always handle the fruit gently to ensure no undesirable phenolic compounds are extracted.”

There’s no doubt that a flavoursome palette requires a deep understanding of the vineyard the grapes are growing in. Everything from the soil, temperature and harvesting techniques are integral in optimising the taste and aromas of the wine.

“Australia benefits from an enviable combination of an ideal climate in its south- east and south-west corners, a level of soil fertility that ensures vines are not over- vigorous, low disease pressure from mildew, and plenty of sunshine, which guarantees ripeness,” says Hardy.

A myriad of factors contribute to the quality of the wine’s grapes, and each of these can alter the tastes, smells and colours of the final product.


In simple terms, maceration is the process of soaking crushed grapes, seeds and stems to extract colour and fragrance compounds, as well as tannins. Differences in maceration techniques are what leads to different wine varieties and can completely alter the wine’s flavour palette. For example, frequent stirring extracts more tannin from the fruit into the wine, while less-frequent stirring will extract less tannin, which can dramatically change the taste of the wine.

The amount of time wine is left to macerate also varies; longer periods of maceration will create wines that are more opaque and rich, while shorter periods of maceration will produce pale and delicate wines that more closely resemble a pinot noir. It’s also important to note that maceration can take place before or during fermentation, depending on the intended flavour and colour combination.


Fermentation is where the fun begins and the actual alcoholic component of the wine is produced. Essentially, once the grapes are collected and gently crushed, the sugars from the grapes are released, exposing them to yeast. The sugars will remain exposed to the yeast until the level of alcohol in the juices reach around 15 per cent. Once the wine reaches this stage, the yeast will die off naturally and any remaining sugars will linger to sweeten the wine.

Once again, different fermentation techniques will produce different results. Some winemakers favour traditional methods, where fermenting is done by hand, or modern approaches, which utilise the introduction of new technologies. Hardys Tintara, for example, uses a combination of both.

“Our premium red wine cellar contains cutting- edge fermenters that combine traditional winemaking principles with innovative handling techniques. Pressing, however, still takes place in basket presses that date as far back as 1919,” says Hardy.

Both traditional and modern techniques will wield broadly similar results – but subtle variations in the textures, flavours, colours and aromas can be noted when using different fermenting methods.


After the grapes have been harvested and the wine has been macerated and fermented, it’s time for this concoction to age gracefully.

There’s a noticeable difference in taste between young reds and well-aged reds, but the latter has usually developed more depth and maturity than its younger counterparts. Red wine that hasn’t been left to mature often smells of ripe berries, but will have a bitter taste. Young wines contain considerably more tannin and when sipped, the tannins in the liquid will bind with the proteins on the tongue and inhibit the production of saliva, leaving the mouth feeling dry and chalky.

When ageing a wine, winemakers will always ensure temperatures and optimal storage conditions are maintained, in the interest of creating a delicious vintage that’s well worth the wait.

A bottle of wine is only as good as the ingredients and care taken to produce it. As Hardy implores,

“Winemaking is all about delivering distinctive aromas and flavours that are complemented by subtle winemaking influences.”

A great tasting wine is heavily influenced by the winemaking process and is only as good as its winemakers.


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