Inside Triathlon, May 2008
While triathletes aren’t notorious for whooping it up when training, that didn’t stop top age-grouper Sarah Gott from rolling into a recent bike camp with enough Chardonnay to quench an entire pace line. “I’m not so obsessed with the whole triathlon workout,” says the Napa Valley resident, “that I won’t enjoy my wine.”
Despite a few post-ride happy hours, Gott is no liquor-swilling party animal. Quite the opposite, the 37-year-old is a seasoned oenologist and winery owner who likes to savor a good glass of white with friends. Although Gott now enjoys biking through grape country and setting PRs at Wildflower, her passion for vino developed long before she purchased her first wetsuit.
Gott studied winemaking in college before taking an oenologist position with California-based Joe Phelps Winery in 1993. After a decade with Phelps, she defected to a smaller outfit, Quintessa, then started Joel Gott Wines with her husband. In five short years, the fruit of Gott’s labor has become a perennial favorite of wine critics.
When not tangled in grapevines, Gott gleefully tears up tri courses along the California coast. Although the mother of three began multisport as a fun, social activity, the more she raced, the better— and more competitive—triathlete she became. Now Gott guns for amateur medals, with top-five finishes at Wildflower and Folsom International triathlons. “I go into every race just hoping I finish and feel good,” she says. “But of course there’s part of me that wants to place.”
But Gott hasn’t let her newfound feistiness strip the fun out of training and racing. She cherishes her morning swims and afternoon rides and credits the workouts with keeping her stress levels in check. “Getting out there and clearing my mind, just feeling the fresh air— it’s huge,” says Gott. “It makes me a happier person and a better parent.” And, not to mention, a better triathlete.
Another benefit multisport has brought to Gott’s life is a big-name addition to her wine family. The Californian became the consulting winemaker for the Clif Bar Family Winery after meeting company founder Gary Erickson through mutual triathlon buddies. While the partnership increases her already heavy workload, it does net her free training fuel. “The free Clif Bars are nice,” muses Gott.
With a successful business, healthy family and toned triathlete’s body, is there anything Gott lacks? “I still don’t have the horse I swore I’d someday get,” she laughs. “Maybe that’s where the whole triathlon thing has taken over.”