It’s 4pm on a Friday afternoon, and typically we would be trying to jump ship on whatever we’re doing and head to someone’s happy hour! But on this particular Friday, when Gaëlle Goossens, the Veuve Clicquot winemaker, is down to do an interview YOU GO!
Don’t get us wrong, the day didn’t completely lack bubbly there was a La Grande Dame Charlotte Olympia “Limited Edition” bottle on the table glaring at us upon arrival–no biggie! And while most may know this distinguished champagne from it’s classic yellow label, by attending the Polo Classic or from Veuve being their go-to when having bottle service, we knew there was much more on the table to know from the winemaker herself. Read on to find out what it’s really like working at this dominant powerhouse!
Gaëlle on gaining her love for vino
“Growing up, I stayed with my grandma when my parents were at work so I spent a lot of time taking care of the vineyard with her. I got to learn something special from her because she actually worked the vineyard which was great because I was always outside observing and it all became so natural for me! My first memory was probably at age seven doing kitchen and cutting the grapes. Then, when I grew up and got my drivers license, I could actually drive the trucks. Those are really my first memories!”
“I like the contrast of Veuve and it being a historical house. We have really strong roots! There’s a strong history there of being innovative and instilling the spirit of Madame Clicquot. She was very daring and that’s in our DNA. If someone, or another house, starts doing something we say ‘Let’s do something else!’. We don’t look at the others…we do what we think will be good for us and we can do that because we have a strong background and history. It’s a spirit!
I also enjoy that they let us think out loud and express a lot of our ideas which is very rare at big companies.”
For amateurs in the champagne game, how does one tell the difference from quality and bargain brands?
“I like talking about the size of the bubbles which comes from the process of making a champagne. With cheap sparkling wine you have really big bubbles that sparkle and explode in your mouth which is not so delicate. If you drink a good champagne you will kind of have the creaminess which is much more appreciable.”
Wanna know when to enjoy bubbly?
“At any moment of the day, ya know! People have to stop thinking champagne is only for special occasions. Use this occasion as a special moment to open a bottle! You can decide if it’s a special occasion…make your daily life a special occasion!”
A typical work day? No way!
“I don’t have any typical days HA! If I had a typical day then I would not have taken the job. You know I’m the Project and Development Manager so I have a pool of different projects and every project is different so that I don’t do the same thing daily. During the year, I’m solely responsible for the pressing center at harvest time so I move one hour from Rimes to the South of Champagne because my pressing center is there. I stay there for about a month taking care of the wine and doing the fermentation. Then, sometimes, I travel like today to train the trade and staff and also meet people and do events so I don’t have any daily habits which I like. I’m an action woman! I like saying that. I could not stand spending my time at the office waiting for the last hour to leave.”
On the importance of strong business women in our world today
“I know that modern business women of today have had to fight harder compared to their male counterparts, but I think it drove the path for more balanced work of tomorrow. If I have a daughter one day, I will educate her exactly the same as my son, but I know she will have to fight harder to succeed. I just hope that time after time, one day, woman and men will be equal in business.
It is hard to be a business women because you know you still have to take care of your kids, your home and BE a business woman so it’s much harder. When I meet other business women, I just say keep going and I want to encourage them. I think everything is a question of balance. Life is a question of balance. Wine is a question of balance. Environment is a question of balance so one day I hope all is equal and that women are just as equal as men without fighting more. I mean if you have the ability and you’re competitive, IF YOU’RE GOOD, go for it and succeed in that!”
This interview was edited by the CommonPolished team for brevity