Obituary JIM JIM



It Was Much More Than a Dog’s Life.

It is with deep sadness that we record the passing of Jim Jim the Down-under Dog® who has been an important part of the Hugh Hamilton Wines team for the past 15 years.

Jim Jim was more than a dog to us. He was a four legged person who never flagged in his enthusiasm for our vineyards, our grapes and our customers.

Perhaps his most significant contribution was his uncanny nose which enabled him to indicate when his favourite variety, Shiraz, was ripe enough to pick. Jim Jim was never hung up on scientific details such as what the refractometer said about the sugar levels in the grapes. He went much deeper than this with his nose and would only eat the grapes when they reached optimum physiological ripeness. It took us about 5 years to work out he had this amazing talent and that’s when we decided he was so important to our team that he should at least have his own brand.

My wife Pamela selected Jim Jim as a puppy because she recognised the appeal of the cross between two breeds, the Labrador and the Australian Kelpie sheep dog. And what a personality he had.

Jim Jim also had other talents. It took our daughter Holly only a couple of evenings to train him to do tricks for the school pet day. He took out first prize as the smartest dog at school. Three years later our son Jock gave him a reprise without further training and he again won first prize.

Jim Jim became very proprietorial about our McLaren Vale vineyards and extended his sphere of influence to within a radius of about a mile. If he was in the truck and saw other vehicles on the nearby roads he certainly let them know they were on his patch and should keep moving. On the other hand he welcomed bona fide visitors to our tasting room.

Whenever Jim Jim barked I knew his mood by the tone. If Jim Jim was unhappy so was I. If he barked I would always back him because although sometimes I couldn’t work out why, I knew he wouldn’t be doing it unless there was a good reason.

He had definite views about the world and it is important that we record them…

The things he disliked were:
  • Other dogs. Not all of them, but some of them he considered fools and Jim Jim didn’t suffer fools. At one stage our neighbour had an aggressive Akita. Jim Jim considered this breed a bully which should be banned. I was in total agreement with him on this. Consequently Jim Jim regarded our common fence line with suspicion long after that dog disappeared. At our city home there was a neighboring kelpie who greeted Jim Jim on his return from work each day with some quite unnecessary aggressive barking from the other side of the fence. Jim Jim naturally had to ‘put him back in his box’ with a very rapid and loud retaliation. Jim Jim was not to be trifled with. I concurred with his approach to this problem.
  • Medication. Like me, Jim Jim didn’t see the need for vets. He didn’t trust the medical profession. He would much prefer to self medicate and he was very accomplished at this. Just occasionally he would accept a bribe to visit the vet.
  • Meter readers. Jim Jim never could accept the electricity meter reader should come so close to his home. Naturally I agreed with his judgement.
  • Thunder and Lightning. Jim Jim wasn’t scared of this, he just considered it intrusive. He would therefore attack it head on and go out and bark like crazy at it until it disappeared. You couldn’t argue with his logic. He had a 100% success rate at getting rid of it.
  • Office duties. Jim Jim was ‘big picture’. Paper work wasn’t his forte. Jim Jim had emails from friends all round the world but because of his vineyard work load he left the secretarial work to me.
  • The travel case. As soon as he saw my travel case he knew he was about to spend some time alone. He put on that ‘what about me’ look, and wasn’t happy.
  • Vegetables. Jim Jim didn’t like brussel sprouts. He also knew about carrots so he gave them a wide berth. We had difficulty convincing him that a few vegetables would improve his diet. He was proved right because he lived to a ripe old age on his high protein meat diet. There’s possibly a lesson for us all here.
  • Children. Well of course he loved children, but not if they were very young. He had an aversion to having
The things he liked were:
  • Grapes. But only ripe ones. We had people, even a retired vet, contact us who said grapes are fatal to dogs. Both Jim Jim and I thought this was an old wives tale and therefore nonsense. Jim Jim ate grapes for nearly 15 vintages, that’s 105 in human terms. The case rests.
  • Human food. He much preferred to eat with us than have dog food. His most favourite meal was BBQ. Whenever the bbq was fired up Jim Jim took a particular interest in the cooking process. His preference was for bone-in meat, as is mine. Jim Jim was moderate in all things and would never eat himself fat.
  • Work. Jim Jim came to work every day and loved the life. There wasn’t a day go by he didn’t ride in the truck and supervise all the activities going on around Hugh Hamilton Wines. Jim Jim was a ‘workaholic’.
  • The forklift. Jim Jim always liked to see his wine being loaded onto a truck and he showed this enthusiasm by barking until the job was done. One very ungrateful truck driver threatened to remove his picture from the label if he didn’t mind his own business. Both Jim Jim and I were upset over the truckie’s attitude as it was his business.
  • Swimming. Going to the beach was a favourite recreation for Jim Jim. Apart from chasing seagulls he loved to swim. He followed Pam in the canoe down the coast one day for a distance of 12 miles without flagging. In later years he became a passenger in the canoe. In the early days of the sailboarding craze he was seen crouched on the board heading out to sea and back.
  • Digging for mice. Once vintage was finished Jim Jim turned his mind to the field mice in the vineyard that were going underground for warmth. Jim Jim applied himself to the task of exposing these unwanted little critters and there were many times I thought he was digging his way to China.
Jim Jim had a bucket list and, sadly, not all activities on his list were completed before he died:
  • Overseas travel. Jim Jim had a taste of o/s travel when he went to Kangaroo Island on the ferry a few times with the family. This trip was not long enough for him to gain his sea legs, besides, it was air travel that interested him most. He often looked up at those ‘planes taking off with wistful eyes. It became particularly poignant whenever my travel case came out. If only he had paid attention to his paper work and put his passport in order.
  • Catch a second seagull. Everybody said his first seagull catch was a ‘fluke’. We know it wasn’t but he always wanted to catch the second one just to prove he could do it. Catching that seagull was Jim Jim’s ‘hole-in-one’!
  • A ‘love’ life. Jim Jim missed out here as we had his ‘jewels’ removed as a puppy. He didn’t spend a lot of time reflecting what might have been, but just occasionally he would behave as if he had them back. Alas, it was not to be.
  • Vintage 2011. Jim Jim very much wanted to complete the 2011 vintage as his last act. He’d been through many difficult vintages in his life and we are now experiencing a great lead up to next vintage. Ever the optimist, he could see the exciting possibilities of a great vintage coming up in 2011.
Jim Jim will live on in our hearts through his wine brand. He is survived by his close friends Rodney and Horace and his two legged family Pamela, Hugh, Mary, Holly & Jock. He will be greatly missed.

Valé Jim Jim.


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