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Posted: Friday, 18 January 2019 15:20

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Gaia Gaja: Dynamics of a Family Business in an Iconic Italian Winemaker

Jan 18: Perhaps no Italian wine family is as much in the news as Gajas, with the patriarch Angelo Gaja taking back seat with his wife Lucia and let the siblings Gaia, Rossana and Giovanni look after the high quality global wine business from the family’s three iconic wineries. Gaia Gaja shares the dynamics of the family business at her wineries which appears to be working very well with her family, preparing them well for succession

Congratulating Cav. Subhash Arora for the 800th edition of delWine, she says ‘it is such a unique and rare goal: 800 issues with 6 Articles in an issue, it is an encyclopedia for an India-centric wine publication.’

Before she gets down to the dynamics of the family business, she skirts around the issue of being a woman in the wine business when asked. ‘About the topic of being a woman in the wine business, it is not as I see it being any different than being a man. I don’t feel any advantages. I have never felt that women have a better palate than men. And I never felt disadvantaged, unconformable or disregarded, being a woman,’ she says conceding, ‘at least that’s how I see it. But I am in a particular position because I have my own family winery and that’s’ a big advantage’.

Dynamics of a family business

‘I would like also to share scenario that in my opinion is not always well expressed and understood. I would like to explain what it means being one of the members of a family business and how the dynamics work. I think it is an important aspect to be explained because one of the most common questions I am asked is about my role and that of my siblings Rossana and Giovanni in the family business of Gaja. It is always a hard question to reply because family businesses have really a different dynamics than a structured corporation,’ she opines.

Here are some the points she emphasizes:

1. Roles are more fluid and flexible in a family business.

2. There are no titles and there is not an organogram (organisation chart) in our winery. They are not needed, we all are complementary and each one of us knows how to do different things.

3. Rossana, Giovanni and I taste wines in the barrels regularly and discuss the approach in the vineyards and in winemaking, involving my father as well of course in the discussion.

4. Everyone in my family takes care of welcoming the visitors at the winery and every one of us takes care of the sales of our wines: my brother Giovanni and I look more after the foreign countries while my sister Rossana and mother Lucia look more after the Italian market (Giovanni was in India in November visiting the Indian importer Brindco when I had met him at the Gala dinner at Hotel Lodi-editor.)

5. My sister is more focused on keeping the relations with our valuable suppliers but we all contribute in keeping ourselves updated and in researching for new opportunities.

6. We may have specific responsibilities but none of us shuns getting involved in all the aspects. Changes in the vineyards as well as in the rest of the operation are constant and happen in an organic way.

7. Surely in the last 15 years (since Gaia has been actively involved in the family business) ‘changes have been much more, inspired also by the consultants we work with to achieve resilience. Our work is like a chain where every ring is a different detail that in turn, may be elaborated and approached in many different ways. Every one of us works on the same detail but on different aspect of it.’

‘I am not sure if this is the dynamics of all the family businesses in Italy but I feel it works the same way in many families. ‘We get along very well and can share same duties with pleasure’, she says, admitting she is not sure In the future how they would  manage it. ‘In any case, it is too early for us to think about it as Rossana’s babies are only 3 and 1 and Giovanni and I are still single and have not made the next generation so far.’

‘My father has been very wise in setting three  separate wineries (Barbaresco in Piemonte and Ca’Marcanda in Bogheri and Pieve Santa Restituta- both Tuscan wines, I am sure that he was thinking also about the future.’

Incidentally, for those who follow their Brunello di Montalcino wines from Pieve Santa Restituta, we are not going to release the Rennina and Sugarille Single Vineyard special wines but only the generic Brunello di Montalcino this year, as she signs off.

Gaia Gaja

(as shared with Subhash Arora)


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