Hunter wine growers are facing another year of reduced harvests as well as bracing for the potential impact of a new threat - smoke contamination.
Production yields for the region's $500 million industry are expected to be down by up to 20 per cent this year as a result of the drought.
Fifth generation winemaker and Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association spokesman Chris Tyrrell said current conditions were on par with the 1980 and 1993-94 droughts.
As a consequence, the some crops were ripening earlier and others producing more intense flavours.
"We have a lot of old vines in the Hunter that are now getting hand watered to keep them alive," he said.
"It's certainly tough for everyone but until you have a reason not to be positive you just keep on looking after your vines the best you can."
Adding to the challenge is the potential impact of smoke contamination from recent fires.
When grapes which are close to being ripe are exposed to intense smoke, the resulting wine can taste smoky or burnt.
The grapes absorb the volatile phenols, a chemical compound produced when wood is burnt and bind to the grape sugars.
Last February a New England Region bushfire on the Tingha Plateau swept into the Topper's Mountain vineyard and killed more than 3000 vines and left surviving vines with grapes so smoke tainted no harvest was possible.
"The closest fires to us are about 20 kilometres away," Mr Tyrrell said.
"There's nothing you can do about it; it's a type of limbo."
In a promising sign, a selection of grapes from Hunter vineyards that have been mico-fermented have to date not shown definite signs of smoke taint.
Andrew Margan said his vineyard was holding up well despite the prevailing conditions.
"The fruit is small but high in flavour; it should be a good quality harvest" he said.
Mr Margan has just returned from Europe where he has been investigating how European vineyards have been adapting to climate change.
"European vineyards have traditionally been a lot cooler but now that are learning from us," he said.
"They are having to adjust their growing styles and techniques to adjust to the increasing heat and how it affecting their crops."
The use of grape sunscreen, improved mulching and irrigation technologies and planting crops in an east-west direction are among the initiatives that have been introduced recently.
"Hunter wines have traditionally have a high acid content and are well suited to dryer conditions."