“Follow your passion, keep learning, be active and work hard"
Clara Canals is a Spanish oenologist working for Pernod Ricard Winemakers Spain. Having travelled the world to learn about wines, she is back home in the Rioja region putting her passion into a pioneering “Experimental Cellar” project.
Who is Clara Canals?
Clara studied Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Navarra in Spain. Raised in the Spanish wine-growing Rioja she followed her calling with a European Masters in Oenology and Viticulture, studying first in Montpellier (France), Madrid (Spain) and then Marlborough in New Zealand.
Clara has come to know her vintages hands-on, harvesting her way across Australia, South Africa, Argentina, New Zealand, and of course - Spain. By 2011, just shy of her 30th birthday, she came home to the Rioja region to join the winemaking team at Campo Viejo.
How balanced is the wine industry today?
“It’s more common to see women in the world of wine today, but a winery the size of Campo Viejo, with three women on the oenology team is still a rarity!
Elena, our Director of Oenology is a true pioneer. When she began her career, she was one of very few, but thanks to women like her, times have changed and today women play a fundamental role in oenology. Elena, Irene and myself form a great team! We share our impressions and learn from each other daily.”
What is an “Experimental Cellar”?
“Think of it as R+D. It was key for Campo Viejo, as a global player in Spanish wines to have an area dedicated to research and innovation. It is one of the fundamental pillars of our company.
Although it is a smaller scale winery, it has all the equipment necessary to foster experiments and innovate within the field. It is an amazing facility, and is the first of its kind within the Pernod Ricard group.
It really enables us to learn daily and be lead by innovation. We aim to implement the winery’s most successful trials, but also to create a new range of wines for our consumers worldwide.”
What’s the best thing about your day-to-day job?
“Every day is different and every vintage is a new challenge! I love the fact that one day we are out in the vineyard, another in the cellar, and the next in a tasting session, blending wines or developing new ideas. We are totally involved in the entire production cycle - from the grapes’ maturity until the wine is in the bottle.
So much goes into each bottle of Campo Viejo – our knowledge, of course, but also our passion. It’s very rewarding to me to know that so many people around the world enjoy it!
Being able to work at the “Experimental Winery” is a blessing – being able to innovate, learn and experiment is any winemakers’ dream.”
How do you manage a happy work /life balance?
“We are very busy, especially during harvest time! We have to make sure the grapes are picked at the right time and look after the wines daily but, then again, that’s where you want to be when you are an oenologist, so it’s not really a problem!
We have a great team at Campo Viejo, from the Viticulture team down to the Cellar workers, so when your job is your passion, and you share it with great people, it makes everything much easier.
We all have to find the right balance between work and life. And it is possible. At the moment I am going through my own very special adventure, having just become a mother for the first time! I’m enjoying my maternity leave and my newborn baby.”
What advice would you give to a woman who would like to follow in your footsteps?
“Follow your passion, keep learning, be active and work hard.
Travel, look for new inspiration everywhere and keep your eyes and mind open to all the new ideas – that’s how we come up with the best projects and the best wines.”