A wonderful vintage, a mediocre vintage, or a forgettable vintage?
That's the question Hunter Valley winemakers are asking themselves as the very real concern over smoke taint quite literally hangs over the 2020 vintage.
Right now, with smoke from nearby bushfires thick in the air, a number of Hunter winemakers have sent off parcels of their fruit to the Australian Wine Research Institute in Adelaide for testing.
"To measure is to know," Alisdair Tulloch from Keith Tulloch Wines said. "Right now our fruit is looking amazing on the vine, but obviously we need to know what is going on with smoke."
Smoke taint is a major fault that not only affects wine taste, but also the barrels the wine is stored in, and the capacity for the wine to age.
In many cases, wine growers will cut their losses and not make wine at all, or sell off their grapes to discount brands.
For the Hunter, which is internationally renowned for long living shiraz and semillon, it would be a massive setback after very strong vintages in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Tulloch, who was in Tasmania when contacted - "they had very similar smoke taint issues down there last vintage" - insists for now it's business as usual.
"Look, no-one wants to jeopardise the quality of their brand, and we're no different," he said. "At this stage we will look to start harvesting some time between January 15 and 20 - and we'll have the test results back by then and will know exactly what we're dealing with. But I'd point out that the Hunter wine region is large and goes from Scone to Broke, Pokolbin and Lovedale.
"If some vineyards suffer smoke taint, it doesn't mean they all will. I'd hate for the perception to get out that the vintage in general is no good. It's too early for that. As I say, our fruit looks amazing.
"And finally, this is highlighting the effects of climate change. It's getting hotter and drier. We use sunscreen on our grapes - it's organic clay-based and reflects the heat away from vines, but they suffer heat stress when the temperatures get into the 40s. But that drives up the cost of production."
While some of the bigger wineries can afford to write off a vintage and have enough wine in storage to keep things ticking over, it's much more problematic for the smaller operations.