In celebration of Women’s History Month, we spotlight winemaker Olga Verde Viéitez, winemaker at Bodegas Godelia in Spain’s most exciting wine region, El Bierzo. Olga is a young and dynamic winemaker, making some of the finest wines of Bierzo that offer the highest quality with tremendous value. The wines are authentic and pure. Her philosophy is to transmit the origin of their grapes in each wine, respecting its character and the character of each vintage. The wines embody the heritage, the history and the culture of El Bierzo.
Originally from Galicia, Olga came to Bodega Godelia in 2013. She formed her basis in winemaking as a Sommelier where she was able to get exposure to wines from around the world and then went on to become the winemaker at Terra Alta. At Bodegas Godelia she produces complex, mineral-driven whites from local Godello grapes and energetic red wines from the Mencia grape. With old vines and mountain terrain, Bodegas Godelia wines are intense, fresh and juicy with nice zippy acidity.
Olga’s story is inspiring, continue reading for my exclusive interview.
Olga Verde Viéitez – Bodegas Godelia
What is your background and history in winemaking? What inspired you to become a winemaker?
I decided to study Agricultural Engineering without being completely clear about the path I wanted to follow. It was then that I had my first contact with the vineyard. At that moment it was clear to me that I wanted to continue my studies in oenology. My family is more connected to the sea than to the land (I am the daughter and granddaughter of a sailor), but in my house, there has always been a great love of wine and this is how I became curious about the wine world.
I began my wine journey in 2007. My first job linked to the industry was in a nursery, selecting plant material from vineyards throughout Spain. This is where I could see the richness in terms of varieties and the different cultivation methods. Since then, I have been combining vintages in the northern and southern hemispheres for several years (Madrid, Chile, New Zealand). I also worked as a sommelier, because I wanted to learn about wines from around the world. In 2010, I worked as a winemaker at a winery in Terra Alta, until 2013, when I joined the Bodegas Godelia team as a winemaker and technical director.
How was Bodegas Godelia founded?
Bodegas Godelia was founded in 2009 by Vicente García. Of Galician origin, with deep roots and a love for the land, he gradually acquired small plots of old vines from Mencía and Godello; until reaching the 50 hectares we currently have. Bodegas Godelia was founded with the aim of adding value to the territory and making unique wines capable of transmitting their origin.
What have been some of the highlights and most memorable moments at Bodegas Godelia?
There are many! Each vintage has been unique, with different challenges and opportunities that gave the best version of our wines.
I remember the 2015 vintage as one of the best of my life, both for its quality and for the energy of the team. 2017 was memorable, but in another sense, since it was the year of the great frost. It made us realize the vulnerability and dependence we have on nature. It was a great challenge to make the wines that year.
Another great moment was when we were on the Wine Spectator Top 100 list. This was great recognition for the work of the entire Godelia team and it also helped promote and give value to the wines of El Bierzo.
What have been your greatest challenges as a winemaker?
The challenge every year is to make the best wine while being more sustainable. I am interested in avoiding the abandonment of old vineyards, contributing to the sustainable development of my region. We want to avoid depopulation and making agriculture a decent and interesting job for future generations.
What style of wine are you interested in making?
When I make wines, I am interested in purity. I am also interested in transmitting the origin of our grapes in each wine, respecting its character and the character of each vintage. I am interested in transferring what the land gives us without much artifice. We try to make the wines fresh, complex, intense and at the same time, easy to drink.
What kind of wines do you like to drink, when you are not drinking Bodegas Godelia?
The truth is that I like to taste all kinds of wines, although I have a special predilection for those who are loyal to their territory, I love discovering areas and grape varieties. I like to drink old wines and discover how they evolve. Above all, what I appreciate the most is the freshness of a wine.
Is there a community of female winemakers in Bierzo? How do you work together to promote the region and uplift other women in the industry??
Currently, there are many talented women making wines in El Bierzo. More than a group of women organized as such, I would say that there is a strong ecosystem of people working both in the vineyard and in the wineries, sharing knowledge, support, and of course, many wines.
In addition, at Bodegas Godelia, there is a large female presence. We also collaborate with a collective called @Mujeresdelvino. The collective is made up of wine professionals from all over Spain and is used to promote and value the work done by women from the vineyard to the glass.
What words of wisdom can you share with other women looking to enter the wine industry?
To all women who want to enter the world of wine, I would say to work hard, with passion, enthusiasm, a positive attitude and humility.
I would encourage women to believe in themselves and not get carried away by trends. It is important to respect the origin, with one eye on the vineyard and another on the glass and of course, that they drink a lot of wine.