Hunter's grape harvest started two weeks earlier than usual, and with lower tonnages making their way into the wineries, it's been a fast and short vintage for the region.
Despite the drop in volume the quality is considered good overall with no weather headaches during vintage. The headaches came from a record dry spring and birds and bats munching their way through ripening grapes.
Chris Tyrrell - CEO Tyrrells and Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association President said as the 2024 vintage enters its final stages, all the of the winemakers in the region are more than happy with the quality of what they have in their cellars.
"The vintage was one the earliest on record, starting in the second week of January. Warm and dry conditions in spring 2023 meant the vines were all carrying a lower crop than normal, which is also part of the reason the ripening happened quicker than normal," he said.
"The harvest period has been relatively stress-free in terms of weather, with warm, dry conditions being the majority of the January weather patterns.
"Across the region, yields are averaging approximate 20-30% down on a normal vintage, however quality is extremely high. Semillon and Verdelho both came on quickly with great fruit intensity and acidity, whilst the chardonnay ripened slower and the resulting wines will be elegant and have good depth of flavour.
"The Shiraz is being harvested currently and the early blocks which are now fermenting all have outstanding deep colours and rich flavours."
Well known vineyard management consultant and winegrower Ken Bray said the best outcomes this vintage were the result of good management of irrigation.
"The growers who best used their water by irrigating enough at the right time have had very little impacts on the tonnage picked," he said.
"You always learns things each vintage and this one was all about irrigation."
As to the birds and bats some vineyards are more susceptible and people can opt for net protection but it doesn't come cheaply, he said.
There were reports growers had tried hay net wrapping as a cheaper alternative to protect the grapes.