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Gaja explains why white grapes adapt ‘better’ to climate change

Giovanni Gaja, the fifth generation of the renowned Gaja winery, shared his vision for the development of white wines and the winery’s expansion into the Asian market with db Asia on a recent whirlwind tour to Hong Kong.

As one of the celebrated estates in Italy with two generations coexisting within the family business, Gaja aims to build on its legacy while introducing innovative changes.

Speaking exclusively to db Asia, Giovanni Gaja shared information on the company’s recent expansion into new regions and the growing importance of white wine. He explained: “The family observed the growing global demand for white wines and hence we decide to take on a unique approach to produce whites with ageing potential and structure, similar to our red wines.”

Digging deeper, Gaja highlighted the recent projects that showcase the family’s forward-thinking approach. For instance, in 2017, the company embarked on a groundbreaking partnership to establish IDDA, a new winery located on the southwestern slope of Sicily’s Etna volcano. This venture, in collaboration with the Graci family, set out as a means to explore the potential of white wines, particularly focusing on the local Carricante grape. Notably, Gaja revealed how this led to the winery recognising the way white grape varieties adapted to climate change and witnessed how they tend to experience less concentration and dehydration compared to red varieties.

Looking ahead at the opportunities this presents, Gaja explained: “Italy, with its rich viticultural heritage of more than 550 indigenous grape varieties, holds enormous potential for the production of high-quality white wines. While only a limited number of these varieties are well-known in the market, we see an opportunity to rediscover and showcase lesser-known indigenous grapes that can contribute to the fight against climate change.”

Another significant project undertaken by the company also involved the acquisition of land in the Alta Langa region in Piedmont, Italy where Gaja’s predominant aim was to produce still whites rather than sparkling wines, capitalising on the area’s cooler climate and high altitude. In essence, Gaja found that by planting Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc at 650 meters above sea level, it could create structured white wines with ageing potential. This endeavour also included the construction of a new winery dedicated solely to white wine production.

Since joining the winery in 2018, Gaja, along with his sisters Gaia and Rossana, has been actively engaged in the daily operations. Rather than having defined roles, the siblings collectively contribute to decision-making, allowing them to be fully immersed in the winery’s management. He reveals: “Our family’s involvement extends to tastings and vineyard visits, where we collaborate with the winemaker to ensure consistency and maintain the winery’s signature style.”

Apart form day to day winery management, the Gaja siblings often undertake extensive travel, not only to Asia but also to other regions, ensuring Gaja Winery’s presence and growth worldwide: He added: “We travel to various destinations based on the winery’s needs, providing us with a well-rounded perspective on the global wine industry.”

Gaja concluded: “Our expansion into the Asian market reflects a global approach to sharing our wines with wine enthusiasts worldwide, acknowledging the growing interest in white wines and their potential to complement Asian cuisines. Gaja’s ongoing commitment to quality and innovation positions them as an influential player in the evolving landscape of both white wine production and the Asian wine market.”

Gaja is exclusively distributed by Altaya in Hong Kong.

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