Large teams can make you feel afraid or unsteady — but it is only people. Even if there are a lot of them, they are individuals with their own fears, dreams, worries… like you. As long as you can inspire and motivate them — no matter if the team is big or small — they will trust and follow you.

As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Winemaker, Olga Verde Viéitez, a young oenologist from Galicia. She studied Agricultural Engineering and winemaking. She started her career in the wine world in 2007, combining grape harvest in the northern and southern hemisphere (Madrid, Chile, New Zealand). She honed her experience as a sommelier and also working as an oenologist at a winery in Terra Alta before joining Bodegas Godelia in 2013, where as winemaker she brings her personality to each and every wine.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I started my studies, the only thing that was clear to me was that I wanted to study something that would keep me in touch with nature, so I decided to study Agricultural Engineering. It was then when I had my first contact with the vineyard, and from that moment on I decided to continue my Oenology studies. Although in the beginning I was not clear on the direction of my professional career, when I discovered the world of wine I found my true vocation, and today I can say that I could not dedicate myself to anything other than looking after vineyards and making wine. Although in my family there is no wine-growing tradition and I come from a family related to the sea, in my house there was always a lot of love for wine — perhaps that is where my curiosity about the world of wine began.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

In my opinion, the most interesting thing that happens to us in the winery is sharing stories with the farmers who have been caring for the vines for years — the story of why their grandparents planted a vineyard every time a child was born, for example. They make me feel closer to the earth and give more value to our profession, beyond the most visible or sophisticated part of great wine tastings in great restaurants.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I started working at Godelia during the 2013 vintage harvest, which was quite complicated because of the rain. The beginning at a new company is always exciting, and in my case, I did not want to fail. I wanted to have everything under control, which is impossible because I had not yet had time to know everything about the operation of the winery. I have always been quite obsessed with oxidation in wines, so once the wines finish fermenting, we always fill the tanks to the top and leave them tightly closed to avoid oxidation.

That is what happened with one of our godello tanks: the alcoholic fermentation ended, and we closed the tank. The next day, a small whistle was heard in the tank and I told one of the winery colleagues to open the lid. When opening the lid, the wine came out under pressure like a geyser and the entire winery was bathed in godello because the fermentation wasn’t over. The lesson I learned is that you can never take anything for granted. Nowadays we analyze residual sugars several times before giving a finished fermentation, and we are no longer so afraid of oxidation. We know about our wines and better understand them, and we make them without haste.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are lucky to have outstanding grapes and vineyards with a very unique terroir and character — but in my opinion, the most important point is our team. Their passion, commitment, and relationship make every project and job easier.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

At Godelia, we like to experiment and play with all the possibilities that our native grapes offer us. Soon we will plant two new “old varieties” that have joined the D.O. They are estaladiña and merenzao, two autochthonous varieties of El Bierzo which have almost disappeared. Saving the wine heritage is important to us, and we believe that the vineyard area of indigenous varieties must be expanded as a legacy for future generations.

We are also linked to the University in a circular economy project based on the recycling of inputs, with which we intend to promote rural development, avoid the loss of population in our region, and encourage young people to sustainable entrepreneurship.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

You have to be yourself — with all the good and not-so-good things. You have to be honest, strong, sincere, and passionate, and work hard to understand and support people to help them to grow.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Large teams can make you feel afraid or unsteady — but it is only people. Even if there are a lot of them, they are individuals with their own fears, dreams, worries… like you. As long as you can inspire and motivate them — no matter if the team is big or small — they will trust and follow you.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are many people I have met, and they have helped me throughout my short experience in this world. One of them is Isabel Galindo, the winemaker at the winery where I worked my first vintage while I was an oenology student. She was my guide and the person who first showed me all the work and effort required to make wine. She taught me to love and respect the vineyard where the wines are born, and to work with passion and effort to be able to show the landscape through the wines.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

If there is someone that can smile while drinking a glass of our wine, we have done great work.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Experience” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1- Dream Big: Big changes come from big dreams. Even if something looks crazy, if you really want to do it, you’ll find the way.

2- Work Hard: There is nothing good that you can achieve without effort and sacrifice.

3- Believe in yourself: There is nobody better than you to face the challenge.

4- Believe in your people or team: Everybody has a hero inside. Inspire them so they can show it.

5- Find a healthy and good atmosphere: In your personal and professional life. It will help you to be happier and more productive.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Since we are mainly farmers, we are very close to the ground and we know we need to take care of our environment to respect our way of life. It is very important that we can be able to live our lives sustainably since we will only have unlimited resources by living this way. We need to coexist with other species and life forms, and we need to find a way to build the best place for all of us because it is the only way to continue our lives — because we depend on each other.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My attitude towards what happens influences what happens.

Both in my personal life and my work, I think that the attitude with which one adapts to changes is very important. Facing change with a positive attitude and humility is essential for success. Especially in our work, in which we work with wine beings and we depend on factors that we cannot control, such as the weather (meteorological).

This phrase becomes more relevant these days when the world as we know it is changing rapidly.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to have a glass of wine with Ellen MacArthur because she is an inspiring leader who, through her foundation, advocates a change in the way we have to produce and consume towards a more sustainable model based on converting waste into resources through circular economy projects.

How can our readers connect with you on social media?

They can follow Bodegas Godelia on Social Media (we use almost all) and they can find our latest news there, thank you!