This bushfire season has been a shocker. On top of all the lives and homes affected, the wine industry has been hit hard.

Even for vineyards which didn’t burn down, the smoke has still been a major source of angst. When smoke binds to the skin of grapes, the wine produced from it tastes awful.

This is known as “smoke taint”, and yes, that’s the official terminology.

In response, the NSW government is giving vineyards up to $1,200 each to purchase smoke test kits. These kits will help them decide whether to salvage or dump their crop.

“Vintage 2020 is certainly proving to be a challenge for the NSW wine industry that is in the midst of a very difficult drought, and also had to deal with fires and the devastating effects of smoke,” Mark Bourne, president of the NSW Wine Industry Association, told AAP.

Christina Tulloch, chief executive of Tulloch Wines and president of the Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association, told Guardian Australia that while the loss of revenue from winery tourism is already pretty clear, the damage caused by smoke remains to be seen.

“We are hearing reports of between 50 to 90% of crop loss due to smoke taint,” she said.

Beyond this, reputation of the whole industry is at stake. In NSW alone, wine production adds about $5 billion to the economy, so it’s important to maintain a good image both here and abroad.

Time will tell if we will see a shortage of our fav drops. Just know that the folks in charge are doing their best to keep them on the shelves of your local bottle-o.

Image: AAP / James Ross