What seems like a lifetime ago I was part of a small team that set up and then ran a contract winemaking operation in the Yarra Valley. We had fifty clients from all around southern Victoria and made well over 150 different wines. To put it mildly, it was completely bonkers. Having heard tales of the outrageous hours that winemakers put in during vintage, I thought nothing of sixteen hours a day with no days off at all. This went on for a couple of months when a couple of things happened. Firstly, I fell asleep mid-sentence when talking to my wife over a late dinner and then, a couple of days later, my four year-old son asked her to find a new daddy - one who would be home sometimes!

That evening came the sentence guaranteed to strike fear into any spouse... "Darling, we need to talk." She was fair, but firm, the crazy hours had to stop. Mostly I think she was worried about me. Winemaking involves working with some potentially nasty equipment and you can't afford to not have your wits about you. So I don't work those silly hours anymore. I make sure I get a day off a week and implement staggered shifts on days which are going to stretch out. I'm also pretty sure that adequate sleep helps me make better winemaking decisions and foresee problems before they occur, it's also safer. Vintage is still hard work and tricky for partners. I can never be sure when I will get home, or what days I will have to work, so our social life pretty much gets put on hold. But at least by managing my hours better I can still hold a conversation when we do get to be together and it means my kids vaguely remember who I am.