We live in Northern Tasmania, 30 minutes drive north of Launceston, in a small house overlooking the beautiful body of water that is the stunning Tamar River. The kids love to fish and kayak, and we all swim with the jellyfish after warm Tassie summers day – yes, we do have them!
Prior to moving to Tasmania, we both worked as winemakers in South Australia. I worked with a large corporation and I couldn't imagine doing what I was doing then with children; the business would simply not allow me to taste wines at 10pm, or leave in the middle of the day if the kids were sick, or work only three days a week and then on weekends.
Today, we make wine under our label Gypsy Caravan for Naked Wines, a crowd-funded digital business that supports independent winemakers across Australia.
Being my own boss means I can basically organise my working schedule around the kids, so we work when we like and when we can, and work to our own hours.
I certainly have loved my career more as a consequence of being a parent. The kids like to come with us to tend to the vineyards and, even though they are still very young, they already know many of the day-to-day jobs that need to be done, and ask a lot of questions about growing things.
As winemakers, my husband and I are trained to use our senses of smell and taste constantly for wine (as well as for all other aspects of life in food and beverages). We grow our grapes, and if we don't have a good year we will buy some, but we also grow lots of our own vegetables and fruit, so our taste buds are pretty spoilt - and so are the kids.
Juggling the work/life/parenting ‘thing’ can be difficult, especially when we are at the mercy of Mother Nature, and we may have to be in the vineyard or winery for spraying, or pressing a ferment.
These things just don't wait, and when the time is right you have to jump to it. However, we also have the ability to take days in lieu, or do special long weekends when we can -and not have to wait for specific public holiday.
Having two trained winemakers helps too, as we can generally have a parent with the kids at home during vintage, even if that means the days of working are longer for the person who is ‘babysitting’ the wine. We do try to be equal in our work-home workloads too. We both make the wine; we both cook; we both do the dishes and the laundry.
We are opening our cellar door in a few months' time. I anticipate that it will be difficult to staff what is effectively a retail store, and this will be dictated by normal cellar door opening hours. But we hope to take one month off in August each year, to make up for all the hard work.
We do have down time, and incredible up-time .... some months are busier than others.
Our aim is to spend as much time as possible with the children exploring our incredible backyard in Tassie while they are still young, and while they are not fixated with the television or some other type of screen!
Many of the jobs we do in the vineyard can involve the children too. They love to collect snails in Spring (to stop them from eating the young shoots on the vines). We also get them to pick grapes with us and help even plunge the ferments! They want to be with us, so they are happy to help out with most things. I'm sure soon they will asking for pocket money!
Our biggest challenge is not burning out each day. Running the vineyard and making wine is hard work. We try to save enough energy to be able to come home and read books to the kids, and share in what has happened during their day. We make a point of this as often as we can, so that when we are together with them we are present and not just there.
We are also very lucky to have grandparents around who love to help both in the business and also with looking after the kids, to give us the occasional date-night. They live close by, so are there for last minute support if we have to stay late to finish filtering, or do a winemaker dinner.
We are living the dream really - and to top it all off we have quite a few friends in the industry with kids the same age as our boys, so we can hang out early and drink great wine and food, and still be home by the boys' bed time!!
I love my job, and David does too. We wake up happy and excited to face each day, and I am sure that this must be a great influence on our children, for whatever they choose to do in life. They don't have to be winemakers; we'll be happy as long as they are really passionate about what they do!