Little green grapes slowly developing on vines across Orange are giving renewed encouragement to the region's vignerons after a tough year.
Orange Region Vignerons Association president Tom Ward said they expected to be harvesting grapes across the region within eight weeks.
Much of last year's harvest was lost due to smoke taint and other issues.
"We were about 50 per cent down last year," he said.
Mr Ward said this year's harvest was looking promising.
"It's been a busy couple of weeks," he said.
"There are really healthy canopies."
Mr Ward said the berries would begin to enlarge and soften in coming weeks.
He said the process of 'veraison' where the colour of the grape berry changes would also start soon.
Mr Ward said it was likely this year's harvest would be "a touch lighter" than a normal year due to the cooler weather.
He said picking would start in March and likely run until mid-April.
Orange region cellar doors are currently enjoying busy trade with many being booked out on certain days.
Mr Ward said keeping COVID-safe operations for staff and customers was crucial for vignerons.
"We are seeing very good demand," he said.
Mr Ward said the booking system had worked well and cellar doors wanted to avoid having people walk-in without booking in advance.
He said all the wineries now had to use the NSW app for people checking in when they visited.
Mr Ward said there had been an increase in tourists who had been unable to travel due to coronavirus restrictions.
"We're seeing people who were going to the other states," he said.
"We're seeing a lot from the Sydney and Canberra areas, plus locals with family and friends."
Mr Ward said the cellar doors had not seen many people wearing masks visiting them.
"Not at the moment but I would imagine that may change," he said.
"We will follow that with interest."
Mr Ward took over the helm of ORVA in September.
Earlier this week Colmar Estate winery owner Bill Shrapnel said business had been so strong in recent months they had expanded their cellar door opening hours.
He said they had previously opened on weekends only, but from August had begun opening seven days a week.
Mr Shrapnel said they were seeing new customers who would normally be travelling overseas but could not do so because of coronavirus restrictions.
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