In a wine region there is of course no more exciting and vibrant time than Vintage.
The Hunter Valley is abuzz as the unmistakeable sights, sounds and smells of Vintage herald Australia's first grape harvest of 2014.
Hand pickers and mechanical harvesters toil the vineyards, while winemakers bark orders over their treasured grapes.
The grape press buzzes as it works on overdrive, and the aroma of crushed grapes fills the air, which leave no doubt in our minds that it is Vintage time.
Hermitage Road and Broke vineyards were amongst the first to be picked this week, highlighting the micro climates of the local wine industry.
Hunter Valley Wine & Tourism Association Vice President Mike De Iuliis declared that – "2014 is shaping up as an excellent Vintage for both Hunter Valley reds and whites. The unseasonably hot August gave us an early Budburst, but this was then balanced out by a cooler September and October, and then some good rains in November.”
"December has been perfect, lots of sunshine without being too hot, which gives us perfect ripening conditions. Semillon and Chardonnay grapes are coming in now and looking really good, and we'll see the first Shiraz grapes in before the end of January.”
Anxious vignerons as always have their eyes constantly on the weather forecast, and even that seems to be in the Hunter Valley's favour with no rain on the horizon.
The first 2014 Hunter Valley Semillon and Verdelho will be bottled and available from around April, as the Chardonnays and Shiraz serve their time maturing in oak barrels.