WHILE some farmers have complained about the weather, South Gippsland vignerons have been hailing the year an early success. Judy and Neil Travers of Waratah Hills Vineyard in Fish Creek have been busily testing grape ripeness and sugar levels to harvest the crop at the most opportune time. “This looks like our best crop in four years,” Judy said. “Our winemaker Marcus Satchell is very excited. “The weather has been much kinder to us this year and we’ve had a disease-free time and that has led to what looks to be a bumper crop.” Most of the crop will be harvested within the next week or so. It will be a busy time for the couple, and their dedicated group of friends as they hand pick the grapes over a course of a week. Judy admits hand picking the grapes from their low trestled and closely planted Pinot, Chardonnay and Merlot varieties is hard work – especially the full 10 acres. However, the Travers know the end result is worth it. “The vines are planted in the Burgundy style and have been here for about 17 years,” Judy said. “Since we’ve been here – about four years, we’ve worked hard to identify all the different vine clones. “Through that, we’ve identified a number of characteristics to get the best results from our harvest. “At this stage it looks like it’ll all be going to table wine instead of sparkling this year,” Judy said. In close association with the Travers, winemaker Marcus will develop the wines. From there, visitors to Waratah Hills Vineyard will be able to taste the 2013 vintage at the cellar door or at local restaurants.