Renowned Australian producer Hardy Wine Company is to be renamed Constellation Wines Australia.

Company president John Grant said the idea was in part to take the spotlight off Hardy’s as a corporate entity and bring back its old artisan identity.

‘In particular, it allows the Hardys brand to return to being a winery, known for quality and craftsmanship, rather than being known as a corporation.’

The US-owned producer will make the name change on 31 March, with company president John Grant signalling a renewed focus on premium wines in 2008 and beyond.

‘This is a pivotal time for our company as we embark on a range of activities to move our company to higher ground,’ he said.

Using the tagline ‘Regional winemaking at its finest’ the company wants to draw attention to its presence in a number of key Australian vineyard regions, such as Tasmania, Barossa Valley, Limestone Coast, Margaret River and Adelaide Hills.

‘Additionally, we have a portfolio of acclaimed wines including such icons as Thomas Hardy, Eileen Hardy, Arras by Bay of Fires, Houghton, Jack Mann and Leasingham Classic Clare,’ said Grant.

He added that the renamed company aimed to benefit from Constellation’s global resources in its mission to become Australia’s ‘regional wine champion’.

The merger of BRL Hardy with Constellation in March 2003 created the world’s biggest wine company, with an annual revenue of around US$3bn. Then winemaking chief Steve Millar promised it would be the ‘Coca-Cola of winemaking’.

Millar, who ran the combined wine operations of the two companies, said, ‘There really hasn’t been a truly worldwide wine business before. There is no Coca-Cola, Microsoft or Nestlé of the winemaking world. We certainly intend to be just that.’

Today, Constellation Brands has gross sales of more than US$5.2bn annually, with 9,200 employees worldwide.

Written by Richard Woodard