The wine manager of a NSW New England winery damaged in last year's bushfire emergency says Australia's most popular grape variety may become a victim of climate change.
Shiraz, called Syrah everywhere else in the world, isn't that suited to Australia's hot and dry climate in the first place, according to Topper's Mountain Wines manager Jan Taborsky.
The iconic and award-winning Tingha winery lost around 15 per cent of their vineyard to bushfire in February 2019. They were the only vineyard in New England to be directly hit by fire.
But despite the damage, last year's unprecedented drought may actually hurt the winery more in the short term, according to Mr Taborsky.
The biggest lesson he'll learn from the crisis: have access to water, and choose grapes wisely.
"This is the message that should be clear to every Australian region, not just us - we should look to what we actually plant in the vineyard," he said.
"There are plenty of varieties that originate from naturally dry areas from southern Europe that are way more drought-tolerant (than Shiraz)."
He said it was a "mystery" why Australian grape-growers picked up Shiraz (in Europe called Syrah) in the first place.
The Syrah grape was introduced into Australia in the 1800s. Australian wine growers renamed it Shiraz.
Since then the heavy red wine has become a staple of the Australian industry, with winemakers turning its hard-hitting spicy taste into a world-beating brand.
But it's actually not overly versatile in Australia's extreme hot and dry environment, according Mr Taborsky. The European industry does not tend to produce Shiraz grapes in the warmest parts of Europe.
He said grape growers need to rethink the variety.
"It's happening. I think many, many grape growers realise (the problem) and you can see more and more growers planting heat-and-drought tolerant varieties."
That raises another problem: Australians have to drink it.
The industry needs to level with the Australian people, he said.
"We have to promote (new wines) to Australian clients, customers and drinkers for them to be more familiar with varieties other than Shiraz, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Savignon."
Topper's Mountain Wines lost about 15 per cent of its vines to the horror Tingha bushfires.
The winery has replanted over 19 varieties in their "experimental" vineyard after a massive effort.
But Mr Taborsky estimated it will take as much as two years to fully recover from the horror year.
Nonetheless the winery is planning to harvest a reduced crop this season.
After months of thick smoke haze it's unclear whether grapes have been affected by smoke taint, an unpredictable but devastating problem that makes wine undrinkable.
They will find out this week.