It's 4 am on the fourth Sunday of my daughter Alba\u2019s life, and mine as a new mother. As I feed her for what feels like the hundredth time that night, my free hand scrolls monotonously through Instagram.\r\n\r\nAn image of an empty bottle of aged Chambolle-Musigny whizzes by, replaced by a late-night snap of sommeliers seated around a well-known winemaker\u2019s dining table. That picture is followed by several pastoral shots of vineyards from various corners of the wine world.\r\n\r\nAn unexpected sigh escapes my lips as I wonder whether I\u2019ve inadvertently bid my \u201cold\u201d life in the wine industry adieu, replaced by one that couldn\u2019t feel further from the images flooding my social media channels.\r\n\r\nTwo years later, Alba has tottered energetically into toddler-hood. While I\u2019ve far from given up my career as a wine professional, I still grapple with the anxieties that emerged in those first sleep-deprived weeks of motherhood.\r\n\r\nIn a very male-dominated industry that rewards those who travel frequently, attend a multitude of events, and schmooze and drink into the wee hours, how do I balance being a mother and being someone who works in the business of alcohol when the two so often seem to contradict one another?\r\n\r\nI couldn\u2019t help but be curious about how other working wine mothers do it. I reached out to five mothers who are also fellow wine professionals on several sides of the industry. Compiling their responses to my questions, I found some answers of my own, along with an unexpected sense of camaraderie, comfort and inspiration.\r\nThe Moms\r\nMarika Vida runs her own wine consulting firm, Vida et Fils. She was formerly the consulting wine director for the Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park, a member of the Full Circle Sommelier Network and represents many other clients as well.\r\n\r\nTracey Brandt started her wine label, Donkey & Goat, with her husband, Jared, in 2004. Today, they make about 5,000 cases of wine at their Berkeley winery from vineyards in the Anderson Valley, Mendocino Ridge, El Dorado and Napa Valley.\r\n\r\nJenny Lefcourt is the co-founder and sole owner of Jenny & Francois Selections, a New York City wine importer. Since 2000, Jenny has been at the forefront of the natural wine movement, responsible for introducing the U.S. to some of the world\u2019s most renowned natural winemakers.\r\n\r\nDana Frank is best known for her work as a sommelier, and for her work alongside husband Scott Frank at their Oregon winery, Bow & Arrow. Dana opened Dame Restaurant in Portland with business partner Jane Smith. She\u2019s co-authored a wine/cookbook, Wine Food, released in 2018.\r\n\r\nChristy Frank is the owner of Copake Wine Works, in New York's Hudson Valley, and marketing officer at Wine Australia.\r\n\r\nHow many children do you have and how old are they?\r\n\r\nMV: Two sons, Cooper (15) and CJ (12).\r\n\r\nTB: Two daughters, Isabel (11) and Lily (5).\r\n\r\nJL: One daughter, Zoe (4).\r\n\r\nDF: One daughter, Orly (5).\r\n\r\nCF: Two sons, Eitan (12) and Amir (10), and one daughter, Orli (8).\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWhat have you found to be the biggest challenges in balancing a career in the wine industry with raising children? And the best parts? \r\n\r\nMV: Being a full-time wine director/sommelier on the floor five nights a week with school-age children. You can work nights when your kids are really young, but I found once they are school-age, you need to be home in the evening a lot more. The best part is enjoying what I do and having my kids seeing that. They\u2019re older now, and they get it.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nTB: I nearly always feel like I\u2019m running ragged and late. I have a project manager\u2019s mind, so I visualize the next 16 things that will have to happen in order to cram nine hours of work into six, get my daughter from school to rock climbing and to plan, shop for and make dinner early enough for my five-year-old to not get \u201changry.\u201d So even though it may be 10 am and hours away from much of that, I often already feel the pressure. I can\u2019t possibly go out schmoozing, drinking and paying homage to our many accounts as much as I might like. Or as much as would be needed to generate the results I would like in terms of sales. We [Donkey & Goat] do what we can, but in all honesty, I don\u2019t think we even compete on that front.\r\n\r\nThere are many best parts, too. I love that my kids know and respect, I think, that our vineyards are farmed and wines made in a manner that respects the earth and celebrates the magic.\r\n\r\nJL: I used to go back and forth to France at least six times a year\u2026between my travels to vineyards and New York. [Now] I really don\u2019t want to put an ocean between myself and my daughter. I am very attached, and we don\u2019t have relatives we can leave her with.\r\n\r\nThe great thing about running a business and having a kid is that I make my own schedule. I can take the day off if she has a day off from school, or stay home if she is sick. It\u2019s great to be able to be there for her.\r\nI recently told my oldest [that] he needs to start writing a business plan for a kid-care service during the portfolio-tasting season. He thinks I\u2019m joking, but I\u2019m not.\u00a0\u2014Christy Frank\r\nDF: Finding the time to be both a dedicated, fully engaged mother and boss. I have worked really hard the last few years to carve out specific family time, to put my phone away and computer away, [and] to just let the unfinished work be unfinished. It will be there in two hours or two days, but the time to spend with my daughter is limited. Because I work nights, I miss a lot of time after school. I miss bedtimes. But I try to make up for it by being available and connected with Orly mornings and weekends before I leave for work.\r\n\r\nI didn\u2019t grow up in my parents\u2019 businesses, but Orly is growing up in ours, and that feels really special. I think I\u2019m providing a positive influence by including her in my career. She\u2019s interested in smelling and tasting wine, and equally loves to be at the restaurant and my husband\u2019s winery. We let her put her finger into a glass of wine and taste off her finger, taste fermenting wine in the winery, juice out of the press pan, etc. She's really curious. But we're certainly not \u2018pouring\u2019 her wine to taste.\r\n\r\nCF: It\u2019s always \u201cTake Your Kid to Work Day.\u201d When kid No. 3 was a newborn, she spent a lot of time napping at the shop. I would literally put baby in a corner. We went through a phase where the portable DVD player was a store fixture. And now, we set up desks made of case boxes so they can do their homework. I recently told my oldest [that] he needs to start writing a business plan for a kid-care service during the portfolio-tasting season. He thinks I\u2019m joking, but I\u2019m not.\r\n\r\nNow that the kids are older, family trips are beginning to revolve around wine destinations. Luckily, it\u2019s a broad topic, so I\u2019m able to work in geography, history [and] chemistry.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nDid you feel a social expectation to give up or significantly cut back on your job in order to raise your children? We rarely hear about men in wine making this choice. What have your experiences been in this regard?\r\n\r\nMV: I once had a client in the restaurant say to me when I was full-time on the floor, \u201cWhy aren\u2019t you home?\u201d I told him I was working, supporting my family. He was a father and out socially so I asked him back, \u201cWhy aren\u2019t you home?\u201d I don\u2019t know if this answers the question, but it says a lot.\r\n\r\nTB: Definitely, but it was not in my cards. My first daughter was born in 2005, the year we released our first vintage of a few hundred cases. The business was far smaller, and I had a luxurious first three months spent more with her than working. With our second daughter, born in 2011, it was far different, and that did leave me dealing with guilt and the miserable feeling that I was performing all three jobs very poorly: mother, wife [and] winemaker/proprietor.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nJL: I grew up with a mom who worked full time, and I always admired her for all the great things she did for women and the law [re-writing family court legislation, working with women in prison and starting the first all-woman law firm in New York City]. I am a feminist and the daughter of feminist parents. I never felt pressure to give up my career. What I didn\u2019t expect was feeling so torn myself. I love work, and I also love being with my family. It is much harder than I imagined to balance the two. In retrospect, I realize my mother felt this as well. She passed away when I was in college.\r\nI never felt pressure to give up my career. What I didn\u2019t expect was feeling so torn myself.\u00a0\u2014Jenny Lefcourt\r\nDF: Not at all. And furthermore, my husband is incredibly supportive about my having\u00a0\u201cas much of\u201d a career as he has. I put pressure on myself not to overextend my obligations so that my time off of work is focused on my family, but I also try to balance that pressure with time for wine-related travel, running, and seeing friends.\r\n\r\nCF: I didn\u2019t feel this, and I\u2019m still trying to figure out why, because I know it\u2019s an issue both in and out of the industry. I think we can put a lot of that pressure on ourselves, and somehow, I\u2019ve a managed to avoid it. Maybe it was because I was lucky enough to have kids just before this idea of full-contact motherhood took over. Society may expect me to never miss a recital or a PTA meeting, but with three kids, I would be missing something even if I weren\u2019t working.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nHave you ever felt any direct or indirect discrimination within the wine industry because you\u2019re a woman and a mother?\r\n\r\nMV: More indirect, like not being taken seriously for certain wine roles, but I now use it to my advantage. I am proud of being a \u201cMom Somm,\u201d and I often talk to other women about how I have changed my career to allow some balance. I have no qualms about saying I can\u2019t do something because I have mom duties. Do I lose some work? Occasionally, but there are no do-overs and work will always be there. My oldest is off to college in less than four years.\r\nThe reality is, it\u2019s a burnout business for most people.\u00a0\u2014Marika Vida\r\nTB: I regularly experience a prejudice where I must qualify, sometimes more than once, that I do in fact, make wine. That I do conceive ideas and direct the [wine]making and also roll up my sleeves and do the manual labor. I experience this while on the road visiting other markets, and I experience this in my own winery while dressed in grubby, grape-stained clothes.\r\n\r\nJL: I spent 15 years tasting for hours in cold cellars filled with men, and it requires stamina. After every intense wine trip, I would come home sick. Despite it being incredibly rewarding, it was physically demanding in the way [that] an intense career as an athlete must be grueling. I definitely feel pressure from winemakers to be visiting more than I am currently. Same goes for restaurants and bars. It\u2019s a difficult pull. I can\u2019t be a mom and live on the road or be out every night like I used to be. At least, that\u2019s not the kind of mom I want to be.\r\n\r\nDF: Every once in a while, I\u2019ll encounter a guest at the restaurant who expects the sommelier to be a man. They\u2019re surprised to see me show up at the table. But that\u2019s pretty much where it ends. I find that most people think it\u2019s fairly heroic to be a mom, own a business and be married to someone who owns a winery. I don\u2019t see it that way. It\u2019s just my life, but I rarely feel any sort of discrimination.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nCF: When I first opened the shop, wine sales people and other vendors would often come in and talk directly to the male person on the floor, rather than me. This doesn\u2019t happen as much now that the shop has received more press, and it\u2019s known that the \u201cFrank\u201d in Frankly isn\u2019t a man. Interestingly, this rarely happens with customers. At this point, nearly all of my sales staff are women, so they don\u2019t really have the option.\r\n\r\nIn terms of being a mother, I\u2019ve made sure it\u2019s known that I want to be considered for certain wine trips, even if it means being away from my kids.\r\n\r\nDo you think there are ways the wine industry can adapt to become more sensitive to working wine mamas? \r\n\r\nMV: Yes. I think more women would still work the floor if there was a way to job share with another working mom, or dad, for that matter. The reality is, it\u2019s a burnout business for most people. I loved being on the floor [two to three] nights a week, but [five to six] is too much for most people to sustain for a very long time.\r\n\r\nTB: I\u2019m not sure. I think much of the prejudice is generational and with time will ease to cease to exist.\r\n\r\nJL: I went from my office to the hospital to give birth. I started working again over email while still at the hospital after Zoe was born. With the culture of email, social media and cellphones, it\u2019s really hard to pull the plug. I would like to feel supported from within the industry when I\u2019m not answering messages for a few hours. I\u2019m with my daughter, and the same person texts me 10 times. It is really hard for me to ignore. It really isn\u2019t fair to our families or our own well-being. There is a lot of pressure to be available 24/7, and it isn\u2019t compatible with being a parent.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nDF: Not specific to the wine industry, but employer health care and better benefits for new mothers\u2014extended paid maternity leave, for example\u2014are crucial.\r\n\r\nCF: It\u2019s a different story in more corporate jobs, but I think in the more independent parts of the industry, as more women, some of them mothers, move into leadership positions and/or open their own businesses, there will be more acceptance of flexible, choose-your-own-adventure type career paths. Us mamas will need to accept that we can\u2019t be there for everything in our kiddos\u2019 lives or in our work lives. Rather than fear what we\u2019re missing out on, we just need to enjoy what we\u2019re doing at any given moment.