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Passing Clouds

M Leith
1 February 2015 | M Leith

The Winemaker's Wife

You know you are a winemaker's wife when you become a winery widow during the months of February and May...

Before you start sending condolence cards and flowers, please let me explain! The WMH is alive, healthy and well, but it’s vintage! When speaking to my other fellow winemaker wives this word has many meanings. There is an unspoken law that when it is vintage we understand that our partners go into battle for 3 months. Each vintage is different; as Mother Nature is the CEO of all wineries, it is up to her as to how it is going to be.  

So how do I know that vintage has started?

Starting in February the daylight hours of seeing my WMH begin to diminish. Much focus and attention is given to the vineyard, winemaking and the weather. WMH becomes obsessed with the weather, it’s like a bride leading up to her wedding day – but even more detail is necessary. I have to say that it actually becomes an obsession. I will also add that the meteorologists have absolutely no idea, which is frustrating and also like playing a game of Russian roulette. The perfect weather needed is sunshine, a little bit of rain but not too much, some wind and absolutely no humidity.  Not too much to ask for really!

From early vintage the WMH battles with the vineyard, hoping that this year he will have the quality and quantity that he hopes for.

By March the WMH is starting to talk in another language, on the phone to growers you hear words like baume` and veraison. Growers start to get itchy feet and need counselling advice on whether to spray, pray or pick their fruit.

Autumn arrives and the harvest season truly commences. The WMH begins the dawn to dusk patrols. As one farms with nature, it also means that you have to try and control some aspects of it. Birds also seem to enjoy the taste of grapes and the epic bird patrolling begins. With all hands on deck, gas guns, a scary man and a bird radar detecting system, the WMH tries to outwit these pesky birds – there are wins and losses. 

As the winery widow you have to understand that the WMH usually works a 7 day week, its just part of the vintage routine.  You also understand that no planning can take place during these months, each vintage is just so unpredictable. However in 2011, we decided to get married during vintage. Yes, absolutely crazy! In planning the wedding I was allowed 15 minutes in the evening to run through any ideas/important decisions that needed to be made. It required me to be organised and luckily for me the WMH had total faith in my wedding planning. The day was perfect and we got our beautiful autumnal photos, which is why we decided on a May wedding in our beautiful town of Daylesford. Of course the honeymoon was not straight away, this was postponed to July, as the WMH was picking fruit the day after the wedding!

As the 3rd month approaches and when you think you will never see your WMH again or have a conversation longer than 10 minutes, you hear the relieving words: “Last of the fruit will be in by the end of the week”. This means that the hard yakka of early mornings and late nights will soon come to an end.  The person you called husband will be able to eat dinner with you and heaven forbid, he may actually get a weekend off!

Vintage makes you appreciate all the good things about being married to a winemaker. You know vintage has to happen, it also allows him to earn a crust and sell the product that he loves making.  

Although I do thank Mother Nature for winter when the vines go to sleep; so we can spend time as a family, regroup and do it all again the following year.




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