The Faces of Clos Du Val: Q&A with Olav Goelet
Fifty years ago, a man set out with the task to find the best place on the globe to grow and make the world’s most iconic Cabernet Sauvignon. That man is Clos Du Val’s founder and owner, John Goelet. While the years have passed, the dream never dies. Now the third generations of the Goelet family help to carry that torch, including John’s grandson, Olav Goelet.
Olav is on site full time at the winery now and serves as Owner and Chairman of the Board. In an era where family owned wineries begin to be a thing of the past, it’s truly special to have the new generation stepping in and continuing the legacy.
Without further ado, I give the floor to Olav Goelet.
Q&A with Olav Goelet, Owner & Chairman of the Board at Clos Du Val
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I actually wanted to be an athlete, I loved to play lacrosse and basketball. I found out pretty early on in high school that although I enjoyed sports, I definitely wasn’t going to go pro (he says with a chuckle.)
What did you study in school?
I attended the University of Denver and majored in French and International Relations. I decided to continue my education to receive my masters in aquaculture production management at the University of Montpellier in France, where I lived for two years.
Why did you decide to get involved in the family business?
I had already been participating in one of my family’s ventures in the aquaculture world and I saw the benefits of having next generation involvement. My cousin, Eloise Goelet, spent a number of years contributing to Clos Du Val and I felt there was a great opportunity to continue that. There’s a lot of good that comes out of the next generation getting involved and stepping up.
Who is the most influential person in your life?
My wife. She has always been a great motivator, she always pushes me to strive to do better. She’s also been a great companion, she packed her bags at 6 months pregnant to move out to California to embark on this new chapter at Clos Du Val, and I truly couldn’t have done it without her.
What’s one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
My first language growing up was Norweigen, it was the household language because my mother is from Norway. It was really important to her that her children spoke Norweigen.
What memories do you have of your grandfather and/or the winery growing up?
I remember visiting Clos Du Val with my grandfather and meeting and getting to know Bernard Portet, the founding winemaker. I have vivid memories of Bernard walking my siblings and I through the winery and the vineyards, teaching us what winemaking was all about. Clos Du Val was always around, always served on my parent’s dinner table. I very much admire my grandfather, he is an individual who is always thinking of the next project.
What’s one thing that has surprised you about working at Clos Du Val?
How intricate the wine industry is. It’s a strong mix of agriculture, sales, marketing and branding. There’s so much more that goes into making a bottle of wine than I had ever really appreciated.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Working with the people. Through my career I’ve found that I enjoy helping motivate people to strive to do their best and to achieve a common goal. It’s something that is difficult to consistently do, but when you have a team who are all on the same page, trying to accomplish the same thing, you get great results.
What would we most likely find you doing on the weekend?
Nowadays, my life revolves around my son which means a lot of feeding, going on walks, and trying to get him down to nap. Ideally, I would be going on hikes, spending time on the water, or playing golf. I just enjoy being outdoors and being active.
Where is your favorite place you have visited?
India has to be the most interesting place I have ever been. I enjoyed the friendly people, phenomenal culture, and the rich history.
If you could only drink one varietal of wine for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I always gravitate towards a Pinot Noir.
If you spot Olav wandering around the Hirondelle House, don’t hesitate to say hello! He loves to visit with guests and get to know the visitors of Clos Du Val.
Until next time on the Faces of Clos Du Val..