• Posts
  • Feature
  • Mother’s Little Helper: ‘Wine Mom’ culture started as a lighthearted internet meme—now it’s sparking questions about new-parent dependency and proper health

Mother’s Little Helper: ‘Wine Mom’ culture started as a lighthearted internet meme—now it’s sparking questions about new-parent dependency and proper health

Red, red wine - stay close to me: A glass of Sonoma pinot can take the edge off a day of diapers, tears and strollers.
“Moms need a way to get out of the house just like everyone else.”—Olivia Wallach

Red, red wine - stay close to me: A glass of Sonoma pinot can take the edge off a day of diapers, tears and strollers.

If you follow Olivia Wallach on Instagram, you and 14,000 other followers likely enjoy watching her sip her favorite wines while offering recommendations and helpful tips on all that Sonoma County Wine Country has to offer. Her 1-year-old son in tow, Olivia is managing the often-difficult challenge of balancing being both a mom and a wine connoisseur.

While Wallach happens to be a young mom who enjoys local wines, she doesn’t fit the often-negative description of a “wine mom,” described online as a mom who turns to wine to cope with the difficult task of parenting small children.

Wine Country writer Olivia Wallach balances her love for wine and 1-year-old son Jeffrey – though wine takes a back seat these days. [Duncan Garett Photography]
The Coravin allows one to pour smaller measures of wine without uncorking the bottle. [Duncan Garrett Photography]
According to an article on Wineenthusiast.com, the term wine mom came to life in the mid-2000s, with popular online e-cards that read, “What wine goes best with laundry,” and “the most expensive part about having kids is all the wine you’ll need.”

Whether it’s a mom running on no sleep and accidentally pouring coffee in the baby bottle, or a mom juggling work, school drop off and stressing about how much screen time is too much—parenting could drive almost anyone to drink. Fact is, moms need a release. However, the downside to alcohol consumption is that—although a temporarily stress relief—it can increase anxiety in the long-term.

It might be easy to make light of being a wine mom, with silly phrases on mugs and humorous social media videos pouring a hefty glass of wine as the kids scream in the background. But all the lighthearted pokes fail to mention the downside to relying on alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Today, many moms raising young children are steering away from drinking wine as often, rather looking toward new options for minimizing stress and maximizing health and rest. Consumers are even on a “sober curious” uptick, according to a January Press Democrat article on the current wine industry.

As the trend continues to shift, more moms and families are looking to fill their buckets up more often than their glasses.


Are you filling your bucket up?

It’s no surprise that parenting comes with many challenges. In most cases, mothers are often depleted in the self-care department, taking care of the needs of the family and the home before themselves.

“Being a mom brings up a lot of anxiety,” says Robbin Rockett, PsyD clinical psychologist and owner of Marin Wellness Counseling in Corte Madera.

“Moms are holding so much,” she says. “A way to cope sometimes is by having glass of wine.”

Rockett’s focus is directed toward women in various situations, such as divorce, marriage, pregnancy and being a single parent. And for moms who lean toward wine and alcohol to cope with family life, it’s a concern.

The CDC suggests four or more drinks on a single occasion as considered heavy drinking for women, and that women should limit their consumption to one drink or less in a day—on days when alcohol is consumed. But for a lot of moms, that may not be a realistic guideline to follow when wine is part of the solution.

“We need a community,” says Rockett. “You can’t do it by yourself. The moms I worry about are moms who are anxious and depressed and using a substance to cope.”

For Rockett, it’s not a question of whether a client drinks or not, but rather, why are they drinking?

“I ask my clients if they’re filling their bucket up. Because if they’re experiencing a hard day, and aren’t feeling connected and drinking to cope, they’re depleting that bucket more—not filling it up.”

Rockett recommends checking in with oneself at the end of the day.

“I start by asking how are they feeling at the end of the day,” she says. “From there, I ask what works best to support you in that moment? It might be talking to your partner or asking for a hug. It’s also helpful to play some music, something fun or calm, just to get your head out of the spinning.”

And in some cases, wine is simply a part of life—minor adjustments to be made as life evolves.

Wine mom on the weekends

Here in Wine Country, the ritual of drinking wine can be a lifestyle in itself. That was the case for Wallach, working in a wine compliance solution facility while maintaining a successful online presence as a social media influencer regarding the wine lifestyle.

“Wine plays a huge role in my life,” says the 30-year-old new mom. “It’s not only my career, but my hobby. I’m constantly immersed in talks about the wine industry and wine at all times.”

In February of 2023, Wallach gave birth to her first child, son Jeffrey. Navigating the balance, her wine consumption has taken a bit of a back seat.

“The balance is rough. Sometimes having a glass or two at night and then having to wake up at 3 a.m. to help my son is a giant challenge for me,” she explains. “I don’t drink during the week anymore and save my great wine when I have someone to share a glass with so it doesn’t go to waste.”

One of her favorite tools to help minimize the pressure to finish a bottle of great wine is a Coravin—a pouring needle that allows consumers to obtain and remove small amounts of wine from a bottle, without removing the cork.

“The invention of the Coravin must have been for moms because it makes me feel a lot better to just have one glass without wasting a whole bottle,” she says.

Additionally, she’s taken up more health-conscious options to maintain the same relaxation that wine offers.

“Because of my son’s non-reliable sleep schedule, I’ve started drinking magnesium at night during the week on nights where I can’t drink wine. This allows me to get the same relaxing benefit of wine without the alcohol.”

Wallach’s ability to find harmony between her two loves paints a new image of today’s wine mom, and how she is evolving.

“My love of wine has not gone away, but my hobby has taken a hit, Wallach shares. “No more multiple wine visits every weekend. I’m also turning down a lot of social media wine events that are during the week.”

On the upside, a lot of local tasting rooms have become kid-friendly, with more families than ever enjoying the experience together.

“Sonoma County has a lot of family friendly spots where I’m welcome to bring my son so I can still enjoy going out while hanging out with my child and socializing with my friends,” she says. “I realize there’s a lot of back and forth on whether children should be allowed to be at wineries but I believe there is a time and place for both. I would never bring my son to a very fancy winery but if the winery is advertised as family friendly and has a great outdoor area and feels safe to bring him, I will take them up on it.

“Moms need a way to get out of the house just like everyone else.”

But what happens if the relationship with wine becomes unmanageable? Unhealthy? The unfortunate reality for lot of parents, is the relationship with alcohol can snowball quickly, without even realizing it.

The snowball effect

“I loved wine,” says Janna H of Penngrove, whose relationship with wine completely changed her life.

“Wine was my drink of choice,” she recalls of her time as a wine mom.

When her kids were 3 and 4 years old, Janna enjoyed taking the edge off at night with the occasional glass of wine.

Building their dream house from the ground up, Janna was home with the kids while her husband worked long hours during the day. Running her own business part time as a hairdresser, while managing the kids and the rebuild, she was completely overwhelmed.

“My husband wasn’t home and was working overtime, while I was running my business part time,” she says.

“The stress of building a home and juggling the responsibilities, all while feeling alone while my husband worked overtime—I had no emotional help,” she shares. “I was constantly alone making decisions.”

Very quickly, her one glass a night turned to two.

“I thought, ‘I opened the bottle, so I may as well have a second glass.’ Then it would become two glasses,” she explains. “Then it was one or two every night. Eventually, it became a habit. It felt good and took the edge off.”

An over-reliance on wine to relieve anxiety can lead to health and well-being issues.

Her love of wine quickly became an addiction.

“On my way home from work it would cross my mind and I’d start looking forward to my wine,” she remembers. “And that’s where the addiction starts to come in.”

Within a year, Janna was drinking during the daytime every day, making the switch to canned margaritas.

“Any drink would do,” she says.

Things came to a head when her family noticed she was drinking and driving on a regular basis.

“My husband and family came to me and said—it’s not just you anymore. You’re putting your kids’ lives in danger daily,” she shares.

Janna’s family lovingly supported her through the next steps of detox.

“I was detoxing in every way—fever, chills—all of it.”

Very soon after, Janna was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous, committing to 90 for 90—90 meetings in 90 days. Her husband alongside her for each meeting, Janna’s support grew and so did her confidence in fighting the disease of addiction.

“My husband refused to leave me when I begged him to. I told him to let me be alone and drunk.”

Nonetheless, he never left her side.

“Once I gave alcohol up, it was like a bright light—a relief,” she says.

“It was controlling my life. And once it was gone, it was a relief, no longer having control over me.”

Janna’s been sober for seven years now, and finds her peace in tending to her horses, enjoying every moment with her two kids, and quiet moments on their now-finished ranch home in Penngrove.

“Every time alcohol is around, I have this flash of my kids’ faces in front of me,” she says tearfully. “They say you have to stop for you, but that wasn’t the case for me. I stopped for my kids. To give them the best life and have the best life with them.”

The self-proclaimed wine mom

When Martina R of Santa Rosa was raising her three kids 20 years ago, wine wasn’t just part of her career, it was part of her routine. Working in media relations and adjacent to the wine industry, she found wine to be easily accessible.

“I have numerous friends who are vintners, wine publicists and sommeliers,” she explains.

“Wine was always available, either free or seriously discounted.”

For Martina, her wine connections came in handy when managing her responsibilities between work and home.

“I went back to work full time—by necessity, not by plan—when the oldest started kindergarten. My youngest was still nursing, which was stopped almost immediately because it was too hard to pump at work,” she shares.

Overwhelmed with mom guilt, Martina over-volunteered in her kids’ extracurricular activities to try and compensate for not being home.

“I was sure the kids were missing out by my not being home. There was a lot of guilt and heaviness surrounding that.”

By the end of the day, Martina would come home and practically collapse.

“By the time we ate and got the kids to bed it was either fall asleep by 8 p.m. with no significant interaction with my spouse or have some wine (a glass or two). It woke me up enough to stay awake for a few more hours, but not so much I couldn’t fall asleep.”

Martina adds that monitoring her intake wasn’t her strong suit, resulting in numerous occasions of overindulging and waking up with weekend hangovers.

“I can’t count the number of times I attended an early weekend game with a hangover. What kept me from overindulgence—mostly—was the next day’s schedule. Getting yourself ready for work and three young kids ready for school before 7:30 will put the fear of God into anyone.”

It was when her kids began middle school that they started making “wine mom” jokes about Martina and her friends.

“It felt pretty [awful],” she recalls. “They were clearly paying more attention to my behavior than I was.”

Today, Martina’s children are grown, and her relationship with wine has shifted.

“These days I drink wine to celebrate, for review and with company.

On the upside, all kids—now in their 20s—show absolutely no interest in wine—drinking at all, for that matter.”

A complex varietal

Just like all wines are complex and different, the same goes for today’s wine moms. The variations are vast—it’s not a one-size-fits-all description. Luckily, our local communities offer support for all types, whether it’s family friendly wineries, women support groups or options for relaxation alternatives.

So grab your magnesium tablets, your CBD gummies, or your favorite splash of rosè, and relax and recharge in whatever form that might be.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply