Balance — it’s at the heart of fine winemaking, and it’s key for mom winemakers, too. While children and wines both have agendas of their own, especially during harvest, most winemakers with kids agree the art of balancing both comes down to flexibility, finding support, and being kind to oneself. For Mother’s Day, we pay homage to three Sonoma County winemaker moms who have each found balance in their own way — and who each make a delicious rosé, just right for the launch of summer.
“Before I had kids, harvest season was everything,” says Lise Asimont, winemaker and cofounder of Dot Wine, which has a new tasting room at Healdsburg’s Bacchus Landing. “I put my whole life on hold for three to four months a year. After I had kids, that just wasn’t possible.
Being a mom became the center of my life,” she says. Asimont credits her husband, Shawn, and her family and friends for lending a hand when she was in “a mom jam,” as she puts it. “Parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual,” she says.
“Sometimes you have to figure out a lot on the run.” Winemaker Bibiana González Rave of Alma de Cattleya, who knew she wanted to make wine at age 14, spent the majority of her life trying to prove her worth as a female winemaker who could do it all. But having kids changed that. “Looking back, I wish I hadn’t been so hard on myself in the beginning,” she says. “I wanted to be a very present mom and pushed myself to the limits. Fortunately, my husband [winemaker Jeff Pisoni] has always provided a lot of help and flexibility — especially when I was breastfeeding and needed wine samples. I couldn’t imagine doing it without him.”
For winemaker and artist Alice Warnecke Sutro of Healdsburg’s Sutro Wine Co., a lot of support has come from not only from her husband, but also from a local community of women in the wine industry. “They can easily glide through a conversation about microbiology and wine packaging woes to breastfeeding and summer camps,” she says. “With my kids, I’ve been very focused on time management, to make sure I have quality time with them. Fortunately, they love to be around all the action at the winery, especially during harvest. Honestly, even the messy, frustrated, and imperfect times together are valuable.”
Mother’s Day plans can be difficult to predict.
“No plans are sometimes the best plans, as long as it’s with my husband and my kids,” says Sutro. “I don’t expect quiet time, though. I’ll have to find that another day.”
Three to try
Alma de Cattleya, 2021 Rosé, Sonoma County, 100% Pinot Noir. $22. Winemaker mom: Bibiana González Rave
Delicate pale pink in color, with aromas of strawberry, rose water, and orange zest. Fresh red berries and nectarine flavors combine with youthful acidity. 888-597-2297, almadecattleya.com
Dot Wine, 2021 Kobus Rose, Russian River Valley, 100% Pinot Noir. $32. Winemaker mom: Lise Asimont
Aromas of fresh summer strawberries, red cherries, and watermelon, with juicy guava on the mid-palate and balanced acidity. 707-385-9855, dotwinery.com
Sutro Wine Co., 2021 Rosé Saignée, Alexander Valley, 60% Merlot, 40% Pinot Noir. $28. Winemaker mom: Alice Warnecke Sutro
Beautifully perfumed aromas of strawberry jelly and plum, and on the palate, strawberry, raspberry, and red apple. 707-509-9695, sutrowine.com Sutro has joined with three other Sonoma winemaker moms to offer a Mother’s Day four-pack for $145, with bottles from Sutro Wines, Jaclynn Renée Wines, Camp Rose Cellars, and Carpenter Wines. To order, visit camprosecellars.com