I think wives, husbands, partners and children of Winemakers and Viticulturists will all wield a sly smile upon reading the title of this blog edition and perhaps even roll their eyes.
In fact, I think anyone married or bound to a farmer will understand what I am talking about.
That CRAZY time of year that is a bundle of mixed emotions... excitement, nerves, anxiousness, stress and relief!
Harvest or Vintage, as referred to in the winery & vineyard, is essentially like a years’ worth of work packed into a 3-month period. Long busy days where you are up and out the door before dawn and still working well into the night. Huge physical activities that help you to drop a dress size without you even noticing, until your clothes are all falling off you. Night shifts that turn into day shifts and then back into night shifts leaving you dizzier than when you step off a crazy show ride. You are eating cereal at 5pm and roast lamb at 8am…. It’s a crazy few months to say the least where all you do is sleep and work. Before you know it, January, February, March & April are over, Easter has past and you are about to start pruning! Heck!!
When I first got serious with Dave and we moved across to Margaret River for a Vintage I met a lady who asked me one simple question… “Are you ready to become a Wine Widow?” Being new to the industry I really thought she was kidding! I just laughed awkwardly and changed the subject. But I am here to tell you, it’s a thing! A real THING!
With the long hours of picking, crushing, pressing, making additions, pump overs and plunging, you are left with little down time for partners & family. Once living back in Victoria, I quickly realised this lady was on the money and I would have to find myself some hobbies. It’s funny, you get so used to having someone there with you all the time, and then all of a sudden, they are not… hence the term ‘Wine Widow’ I guess.
Luckily for me I didn’t find it hard to fill my afternoons and weekends with sports, theater groups and friends. But once Vintage was over, Dave and I often found ourselves at a point where I had a very busy social life and he was still trying to ground himself after the crazy Vintage ride was over. It always took us some time to get back in sync and relax back into “normal” life again. But then of course it felt like we blinked and it was time to start it all over again. There is no doubt about it, harvest is a tough gig on all involved & can tend to send you a little bit crazy!
Now we have children; and while we still have our crazy Vintage period every year, I am now very busy with the kids; and actually I think my current lifestyle with them is probably more like a show ride that leaves you spinning well after you have gotten off it, than Vintage ever was… haha… just with less weight loss and more grey hairs! It seems I am now the one who is wondering where the school terms and years are disappearing to.
Living in a farming community I see this way of life for many other families at sowing & harvest time. Laying it all on the line, giving up their precious weekends and family time. I also see amazing strong wives and partners who keep their households ticking along, children happy and in good routines. Setting amazing examples for their children of how to work hard, love hard and still give back to their communities even when their own tanks are running on empty.
Its amazing how resilient we humans can be and how beautifully we come together when someone needs it most! It makes this crazy harvest/vintage period just that little bit more bearable.
So, to all the ‘Wine Widows’ out there this Vintage, male or female, well done to you! It’s not easy to adapt into the Vintage way of life, no matter how many years you have been doing it for. You will find yourself feeling very lonely & resentful at times and constantly day dreaming about tropical island holidays. But rest assure you are not alone, it will pass and you will get your partner back. In the meantime, take this time to do something YOU love & that keeps that smile on your face & skip in your step!
It’s just a matter of taking Vintage one ‘sip’ at a time… because the end product is totally worth it!