IT was an early start for winemaker Andrew Margan at Margan Hunter Valley Wines yesterday as the first grapes of the harvest were picked.
Mr Margan, the Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association president, said conditions had been perfect with overnight temperatures averaging 13 degrees this week.
The chardonnay crop is the first type of grape to be harvested this year, with workers using a mixture of machine and hand picking.
Mr Margan said the conditions determined how the grapes were picked, but mostly the machine was used at night and workers hand-picked in the morning until it became too hot.
‘‘We’ve had perfect weather conditions and the forecast says there won’t be any significant rainfall until February, which is good news for us,’’ he said.
‘‘A lot of vineyards have done bits and pieces but most will start picking by the end of this week or early next week.
‘‘We tend to pick earlier than other parts of the valley because the grapes at Broke ripen more quickly.’’
Twenty pickers and the harvesting machine will tackle the vineyard’s 120hectares of grapes over the next six to eight weeks.
Mr Margan said the red grapes could be picked as early as the end of this month because of the good conditions. He is confident the harvest will produce quality wines.
‘‘We had a great harvest last year and this year is looking good as well,’’ he said.
Mr Margan started making wine in 1977 and has travelled the globe to develop his skills.
His family planted their first vines in the Hunter Valley in the 1960s on a property bordering Tyrrells in Pokolbin.