THE Tamar Valley vineyards are abuzz as excited viticulturists and pickers rush to take advantage of a promising grape crop.
Thanks to favourable weather conditions - a wet winter and spring, followed by a warm summer - Tasmania's grapes are expected to be of exceptional quality and quantity this season.
At Lalla's Leaning Church vineyard yesterday, 30 people from around the world joined owners Mark and Sarah Hirst for their first picking of grapes.
``We're picking beautiful, big, firm bunches early in the season, which is very exciting,'' Mrs Hirst said.
``Being able to pick early is a huge advantage: it helps us avoid all the issues related to birds and disease that can arise later in the season . . . it has made for one of the best seasons we've had in years.
``It's pretty frantic in the Tamar Valley at the moment, with everyone picking their sparkling grapes.''
Wine Tasmania chief executive Sheralee Davies said it was unusual that quality had increased across the board, with winemakers across the state reporting great grapes.
``It's great news for the state's wine industry: there's good demand for our wines, and increased productivity will mean winemakers can better meet that demand with a great vintage,'' Ms Davies said.