The Eleven generations of Riedel

Known for the creation and development of varietal-specific stemware. RIEDEL Crystal was the first in history to recognize that the taste and aroma of a beverage is affected by the shape of the vessel from which it is consumed, and has been recognized for its revolutionary designs complementing alcoholic beverages and other drinks. Founded in 1756 and pioneering varietal-specific stemware, RIEDEL has become the brand of choice for wine connoisseurs and drink specialists, hospitality professionals and consumers globally.

An incredible story. Do you often get nervous and feel pressure to be the 11th generation at Riedel?

It is an honour to represent the eleventh generation of a family business. At the same time, it is also demanding and challenging as I consider it my duty to hand over a prosperous business to my successor.

Would you class yourself as a trail-blazer? You have a vision for your family’s company, and now as CEO, what has changed in your mindset as the main person?

Yes, I would call myself a trail-blazer as I have installed many innovations, including new and innovative glass and decanter collections. But I also modernised our internet presence. I initiated Riedel’s first international online store. Today e-comerce is one of our most important sales channels to consumers. I also recognised the value and advantages of social media very early on; it gives me an excellent opportunity for direct communication with my end consumers.

Being CEO has not changed my mindset – my main goal in everything I do is and always has been to achieve the best possible result. Never lose focus on what you want to achieve.

Your relationship with your Father is incredible, and you both are one another’s, right-hand men. Your Father is a visionary; surely this is where the “Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?”

Our family is very close, and we challenge ourselves to do better every day. None of us likes stagnancy. We always strive for innovation.

To design over 100 different designs a year is staggering; what single design are you most proud of within the company from the family’s perspective and also from your perspective as CEO?

It is important to know that design is not what we are known for. It is functionality. This is the main focus of all our work. If you want me to name one, it probably is the series O – my first creation. It turned out to be a huge success. It is to this day one of our bestselling collections worldwide.

Your relationship with the wine industry affords a truly mesmeric relationship which is key to your continued success. The epitome of wine pairing with the perfect glass for you would be? Then if we sweet to ask you for your specific lunch/dinner to complete the whole ambience and creation, what would that be?

The perfect glass has not yet been built. This is what we are working on daily. Den zweiten Teil kann ich nicht beantworten

I love that if Mozart were alive, he would be the same age as Riedel, the company.

The company came close to bankruptcy during World War II. What were the fundamental changes to the company at the time, and how did that re-shape the future of Riedel?

After the Second World War, my family was dispossessed and lost all their property in Bohemia, all their factories and the entirety of their private assets. Walter Riedel, the company’s eighth generation, was imprisoned in Russia for ten years. The prospects seemed to have evaporated. But we were lucky, and the story played out differently. 1946, my grandfather Claus J. Riedel, ninth generation, escaped from the prisoner train on the journey over the Brenner Pass, Tyrol.

Supported by the Tirol glass industrialists Swarovski, who the Riedel family knew from Bohemia, in 1956, Claus Riedel, with his Father Walter, was able to take over the bankrupt “Tirol glassworks”. Claus set himself up in the following years as a designer and won many prizes for his creations. Finally, in 1973 he created the pioneering innovation whose discovery was to once again turn the name Riedel into a glass-related world leader: the first line dedicated to wine enjoyment – Sommeliers. My father Georg J. Riedel introduced an innovation in 1986, which, from an economic perspective, had even more significant consequences: the first machine-made glass based on wine varieties in history – Vinum! This was the restarting point. Today I am proud to say that Riedel is a worldmarket leader in functional wine glasses.

So who takes on the mantle at Riedel when you retire? Who are the next generation, and how different or similar do you believe they potentially will become?

I am happy that there is already the twelfth generation. My sister and I both have children. One of them will take over one day. The future will show who this will be.

You’re pleased in front of the camera, where you realise the audience and engage fully with them. And as you rightly say, the reach on social media affords less travelling for business. So for pleasure, where are your go-to places to recharge batteries?

I love water and mountains. Both help me to decompress, relax and recharge my batteries.

The Pandemic has been superb for many reasons at Riedel; why do you think the company has favoured incredibly well?

People had to stay at home and recognised that over the years of dining and celebrating out of their homes, they had neglected to stock up their kitchens and glasscabinets. During the Pandemic, this changed.

So how do you go from the Sommelier Line collection of functional but how to make them aesthetic?

Our glasses are instruments; we call them tools. The aesthetics are like a bonus. The focus lies on functionality.

My grandfather, Professor Claus Riedel, was a highly skilled designer. We owe the reduced style of the glasses to him. This is the basis all other Riedel collections emerge from.

What’s the most exciting project you are working on at present?

Let us surprise you!