A week after the Paris riots began in May 1968, 15-year-old Aldo Vaira found himself in the streets of Turin with a group of young protestors. Enraged, but also fearful, his father sent the boy to his grandparents’ farm in Barolo for the summer. Amazingly, a lifelong passion for farming was born, and Aldo decided to go to wine college. In 1971, he joined Suolo e Salute (soil and health), a pioneering group promoting organic agriculture in Piedmont. In 1972—a very difficult vintage, with a tough harvest, press, and fermentation—Aldo bottled his first wine under the G.D. Vajra label.
Why Vajra? The first wine labels were printed with the family name spelled incorrectly, and with no money left to make a correction, Aldo decided that a new “brand” had been born. It is, of course, Vajra to this day. The G.D. is for Giuseppe Domenico, Aldo’s father. Five decades later, Aldo and his wife, Milena, are thrilled to see the next generation fully involved with the winery. Their three children—Giuseppe, Francesca, and Isidoro—are all full time (and more) at the estate.
The hallmark of the family’s wines, which are farmed organically on nearly 40 hectares, is their elegance. Perhaps it’s the light use of oak, but the high elevation of the vineyard sites is paramount. Cooled by the Monviso mountain air, the grapes maintain structure and energy that are reflected in the wine. Be it the oldest plantings of Riesling in the region or the experimentation with 17th-century recipes, Vajra strives to be the most innovative of the traditionalists and the most traditional of the innovators, and each wine is made with extraordinary care.