Meet the “Queen of Barbaresco” Gaia Gaja, Godmother of Silver Moon
Before she learned to walk – let alone old enough to drink – Gaia Gaja had a wine named in her honor; the Gaia & Rey Chardonnay. As the daughter of renowned winemaker Angelo Gaja, Gaia represents the fifth generation to own and manage the Gaja winery in the small Italian town of Barbaresco. Affectionally hailed as the ‘Queen of Barbaresco,’ she is a guardian of her family’s illustrious legacy, which dates back to 1859 and has fostered an internationally acclaimed reputation as a leading producer of fine Italian wines. And today, she is also the Godmother of Silversea Cruises’ flagship vessel, Silver Moon.
It’s a match made in epicurean heaven. Gaia is considered to be among the most influential women in the wine industry and Silver Moon is home to Sea and Land Taste (S.A.L.T.), Silversea’s innovative culinary program. “I passionately believe that food and drink facilitate profound discovery—into destinations, cultures and people—and that guests will nurture strong connections with amazing destinations as a result of S.A.L.T., the ship’s innovative culinary offering,” says Gaia. “My own experience with wine making has taught me that culinary discovery possesses limitless potential; here’s to the curious travelers who seek to unlock it.”
During Silver Moon’s naming ceremony, held in Athens on July 28, 2021, Gaja officially accepted the title of godmother. In an exclusive interview with Discover, she discusses the significance of her role, the connection between luxury travel and culinary experiences, and the parallels between her winery and Silversea Cruises.
What does it mean to you to be named as the Godmother of Silver Moon?
It’s definitely an honor to be the godmother of a ship, especially when it’s such a beautiful ship. This opportunity does not happen very often in a lifetime. When I received the phone call from Silversea, I was a bit surprised at the beginning. I didn’t understand what it means exactly. After a while, I figured out how the Godmother is important, a role with a significant and ancient tradition.
Silversea’s new culinary program, S.A.L.T., takes guests closer to the soul of a destination through immersive culinary experiences. What makes food and drink so important when traveling, in your opinion? Do you think the S.A.L.T. program can enhance travelers’ experiences?
Food and wine are an essential part of the culture of a place. They represent its history, express its taste and affect the relationships and lifestyle of the inhabitants. Not paying attention to local products means losing the opportunity to really understand an area.
Silversea’s guests visit wineries across the world. What can wineries teach us about a destination and its culture?
Wine is the memory of a place, it brings with it the memory of a trend of a year, a vintage. But it also tells us what has happened over thousand of years. it reminds us of a specific culture of tastes, style and personality of the inhabitants.
With a focus on innovation, a passion for quality, and a distinctly Italian heritage, the Gaja Winery shares much in common with Silversea Cruises. What do you think is the strongest commonality between the two?
We both have Italian lineage and a commitment to tackle our work with a different point of view from the common one. Trying to do things differently is the key in pursuit of the quality and I think that we both have this attitude in common.
The role of Godmother is a longstanding tradition in the cruise industry, which is very traditional in many respects. How important is the role of traditions in the wine industry? And how does this enhance your wines?
Tradition is a priceless heritage that our area owns and which our work is based on. Tradition is the knowledge gathered through countless generations that have dedicated themselves to the same purpose. Nowadays our contribution to knowledge is innovation: the modern technology gives us many possibilities to improve. It is all about not losing sight of the final goal, which for us it is the most vivid and faithful expression of the character of our land.
The Gaja Winery also has a heavy focus on innovation. How do you continue to push boundaries in your industry? And how important is this to your clients and your wine?
Exploring every side of our work reproaching it under a different point of view is an endless improvement opportunity. For example, we work with university professors who are specialized in different topics unrelated with wine or agriculture, nevertheless their observations are very often inspiring.
Barbaresco has become an iconic and prestigious label. How did your family manage to change perceptions around Barbaresco wine?
My family is deeply connected with Barbaresco. We have always believed in the uniqueness and complexity of this wine and we have focused on the attempt of expressing it for 5 generations. Barbaresco has a delicate and not over imposing character as well as long finish and persistency.
You had a wine named after you before you could walk and your parents have always encouraged you to engage with the family business. The influence of your parents is clearly a driving factor on your work today. How do you plan on developing their legacy?
I learnt from my parents the importance of strongly believing in a project, of defending it from the disappointments that life entails, and at the same time, paying attention to doubts that can pop up during the way and curiosity that help out to see further.