Tim Kirk remembers being a small boy helping his father John, one of the pioneers of the Canberra wine industry, look after the first vines planted in the region back in the early 1970s. Those vines, which produced the region's first commercial vintage in 1976, are still there, tucked away on a rolling hill on the Clonakilla vineyard in Murrumbateman.
2020 will be the first year there has not been a vintage.
We're walking through vines of shiraz grapes, some of which may have ended up in his acclaimed shiraz viognier, the grapes are abundant and plump, a luminous rich purple.
"It's so sad," he says. "If you didn't know, these grapes look perfect ... but see that pile of grapes on the ground there, that's about $600 worth of wine."
That's the thing about smoke taint. It's insidious. You can't see it. You might not even be able to taste it on the vine. It's not until the fermentation process starts taking place that it becomes apparent.
"We did a couple of mini ferments in buckets just to see the affect it would have, and you know what it smelt like? Burnt salami in an ashtray.
"Everyone knows what we lived through this summer, days on end blanketed in not just the pleasant distant smoke of a wood fire but a heavy acrid smoke.
"That smell is the aromatic compound, it comes to rest on the skins of the grapes, and it sticks to the skins if you like, and if you take those grapes and try and make wine it gets released into the wine and you can smell it and you can taste it."
Kirk said it was a heart-breaking decision.
"We just didn't feel that we could guarantee our customers the quality they should expect under a Clonakilla label. It's the right decision but one of the toughest I've ever had to make."
Ken Helm planted his first vines in 1973, he's been through good times and bad, but he was remaining optimistic that he would hold on to his vintage, still waiting for final results.
But he still shared Kirk's sentiment.
"We've been doing some mini ferments and at this stage we're pretty happy with what we've got," Helm said.
"We think we may actually sneak through with some riesling but we're not going to jeopardise our good name. If we do decide to pick and the wine is no good we'll just dump it."
For Frank van de Loo, winemaker at Mount Majura, 2020 will be the first year it's likely they won't make wine from their own grapes. The first hectare was planted in 1988 by Dr Edgar Riek, another pioneer of the Canberra wine industry, producing award-winning pinot gris among other wines.
"I've managed to source some pinot gris grapes from down in Victoria, I'd like to produce a wine," van de Loo said.
"We've had to pull the pin on the 2019 pinot gris, that won't be available to buy because we have to look after a few restaurants that stock it and we can't afford to lose listings."
Indeed it's this knock on affect that all winemakers are keen to talk about, the effect it will have on people who travel around NSW bottling wine, or those who make labels, grape pickers, even hospitality workers who staff cellar doors.
Karen Shaw, from Shaw Vineyards, manages one of the fanciest cellar doors in the district. High ceilings, raking windows, all lines and angles, looking out across to the vines.
"We were here on New Year's Day and the smoke was so thick we couldn't even see across the road to the vines," she said.
The other thing they all want to mention is that there is wine, that cellar doors are still open, that there are still experiences to be had at all local wineries, from tastings to overnight stays.
"To lose a year's crop for Clonakilla it runs into the millions, but we have good contingency plans in place," Kirk said.
"It's important for everyone to know we're not going to run out of wine. And we need you all to keep drinking it."