Today, is the last day of the school holidays, and man am I exhausted! One of my closest friends has just been to stay with her six-year old twins. Her husband is a Winemaker, and she quite often comes to stay during vintage (grape harvest).
Winemakers work full-on harvesting and processing grapes between the end of February and the middle of May in New Zealand (in Autumn). They work ridiculously long days, often until midnight, or they work a god-awful night shift which finishes after breakfast time. They can work for days without a day-off. A ‘vintage widow’ is a slang term for the partner of a Winemaker during grape harvest!
My husband used to be a Winemaker, and so I used to be a ‘vintage widow’. Our youngest son was even born during vintage, so it is a miracle that my husband actually made his birth! As a ‘vintage widow’, your partner is absent so inevitably you have to take on all the household and childcare responsibilities. This is totally exhausting if you are also working, and you don’t have any extended family to help out.
Your marriage usually takes a hit during vintage, as it is extremely difficult not to feel total resentment and hatred towards your other half! Your partner will stink out your house with dirty, rotting laundry, is no help with household chores and absolutely no help with the kids for the whole period. You revert back to being a couple from the 1950’s; your sloth of a husband returns home from some smelly hole, the kids are all bathed and tucked up in bed, you pull out a delicious home cooked meal and he eats it. He has no interest in conversing with you, and sits like a zombie in-front of the TV. You go to bed totally strung out and he falls straight to sleep – snoring. If you haven’t got kids you don’t understand where his libido has gone. If you have kids, his libido isn’t a concern as having kids wrecked your sex life a long time ago.
When vintage has finished, your partner is usually so exhausted that he needs a few weekends to get his energy back and get into the swing of family life again. This pisses you off, because you have spent the whole time looking forward to him finishing vintage and he is totally bloody useless for another few weeks! Then, because he is exhausted he is hit with a man cold – and oh my god – he’s lucky you don’t drive a stake into him when he’s sleeping!
My husband is not a Winemaker anymore, but I remember vintage well and I empathise with all the ‘vintage windows’ out there. Luckily, vintage is only for a few months each year. My husband’ s new career does require him to work long hours away from home, but the good thing is his clothes are not full of grape juice when he returns, I don’t have to cook his dinners and if I don’t want to listen to him whinge – well… I just don’t answer the phone!