Winemakers love to make blends, so it’s no surprise that our local Sonoma women winemakers have crafted their unique blend of having a family, being a mom and making wines.
“Blending wine and kids, these winemakers work hard to create a healthy work-life balance in an industry still dominated by men,” writes Jean Saylor Doppenberg in NorthBay Biz.
Amista winemaker Ashley Herzberg shares her story along with other woman winemakers in Sonoma County, revealing how she makes it all work.
“When you are the primary caregiver to two kids and have a full-time job and clients who need you, it’s a giant jigsaw puzzle of many pieces. You can’t always get to all the things you want to do in one day, so you lean in and embrace it,” says Ashley.
“As a bit of a perfectionist, it’s a hard lesson for me to learn, but perfection isn’t the goal. It’s a huge difference now that the kids are older and are able to help me. They can be very useful at the winery.”
Ashley has been bringing her kids to work with her since she started at Amista Vineyards in 2011. In the early years she could be seen walking the vineyard rows, inspecting the vines with her son in a baby sling and her daughter toddling beside her.
As they grew older, her children made a habit of tasting the grapes just before harvest and giving her their opinion on whether they were ready to pick or not. Now they help with the harvest, arriving at dawn to climb up on the bins behind the tractor and remove the leaves and the grape clusters that aren’t perfect.
When her daughter was only 2 years old, Ashley started taking her to the winery as she sampled the wines fermenting in the barrel, sipping and spitting the wine in the floor drain as is the routine for winemakers. Her daughter “…was a very observant 2-year-old and had seen me do that countless times,” Ashley explains.
“One day I picked her up from preschool and the teacher said my daughter took sips of juice from her sippy cup that day and then spit them out on the floor. She wasn’t able to talk much then, so she couldn’t explain why she was doing it. But she had watched me spit out wine over and over.”
Winemaking is not always a predictable role. It involves Mother Nature which provides different challenges every year. “So, you can’t just walk away from it, and I can’t ask anyone else to take care of it for me. There can be long hours, and that’s a lot of hours away from home,” explains Ashley.
“On the flip side, I get to bring my children with me to work frequently, and we get some bonding time, enjoying how beautiful it is to be in the vineyards, and watching the ebb and flow of farming. It’s good for my kids to see that I’m working and that I can provide for us. I work really hard.”
Read the stories of four Sonoma winemakers in Winemaker Moms by Jean Saylor Doppenberg in NorthBay Biz.
Want to taste discover the wines Ashley makes with a little help from her kids? Come Taste with Us at Amista Vineyards!
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