When the Mudgee wine region heads to harvest soon it will be of a vintage that's lower yield but high quality - and with the much hoped for rain forecast for this week arriving, it's been "perfectly timed" for the important local industry.
Vineyards can cope well in drought - albeit with reduced yields - and when it does finally rain it's important that the timing is right. Jacob Stein of the Mudgee Wine Association said that having taken protective measures during the harsh conditions, the rain predicted to carry over into next week and thunderstorms that arrived Thursday are in an ideal window ahead of harvest.
"Obviously the drought is quite severe, but grape vines are one of the lower users of water. And even though this extreme drought hasn't been ideal for us, it's still probably best to be on the drier side than really wet," he said.
"Most people in Mudgee have got bore water to irrigate vines. What we've been doing this year is giving them sufficient water to get a below average crop.
"Grape vines are fairly hardy and with a bit of extra nutrition, working the vineyard and products like fish emulsion and Seasol - you can protect the vines from these harsh conditions.
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"This rain would be perfect timing, because the grapes are only just starting to go through veraison and starting to accumulate sugar, which is where they start to take up a lot of nutrients and water for the proper ripening.
"It's really the last couple of weeks that we'd want to have rain. I can see it being an excellent harvest, lower yield for sure, but high quality."
Although, he added that with a lower yield, comes higher cost of production this year. So now is the time to support local wine producers.
"We've already got great support from the local region, but it would be fantastic if you can always keep Mudgee wine in mind when purchasing," he said.
The local region has also likely been fortunate to avoid problems with smoke taint - a major concern for wine regions including the Hunter - and a workshop was held by the Mudgee Wine Association and the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) last week on the issue.
However, even though the region has had many hazy days, its location has potentially spared it from the thickest - and therefore worst - smoke.
"Other areas have unfortunately had more smoke than us. The smoke haze that we're experiencing here - apart from some days - seems not to be a threat to our vines so far," Mr Stein said.
"We're sending samples to the AWRI for testing, but we're extremely confident that we don't have any problems. Distance from the fires really helps and what we're having here is beyond secondary smoke, it's quite late, so we consider ourselves quite lucky in that regard."