Now That’s a Legacy: Interview with glassmaker Georg Riedel

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Growing and drinking great wine dates back to before the Roman Empire. The Bible even speaks about the practice of serving the better wines at weddings, then later the lesser quality ones (when apparently people were ‘unaware’). Here in America, the winemaking industry goes back not nearly as far, of course, with California’s Napa and Sonoma regions having produced world-class wines for over only the past 30-45 years or so.

But when it comes to truly enjoying fine wines, the glass from which it is drunk makes a profound difference in the tasting experience. That’s where the Riedel family enters the discussion. The Riedel family’s legacy of fine glassmaking dates back eleven generations, to 1756. To view a perspective of that time, the Austrian Empire was the center of the universe in Continental Europe. The United States of America was still a dream of its forefathers, and that was the year Mozart was born. Mozart! In 1756 Bohemia was a part of the Habsburg Monarchy (look it up), and it was here that Johann Leopold Riedel started the story of this dynasty, which to this day remains inseparably connected with the finest glassmaking in the world. Over these many years, political and economic crises and personal tragedies have been endured by the family. The two great wars of the Twentieth Century caused even more tragedies, with loss of properties, political imprisonments and many other difficulties. But the spirit of entrepreneurship, artistic and technical skill and a constant penchant for innovation, have continued to shape the destiny of the Riedel family.

Recently, we caught up with Georg Riedel, who himself is a tenth-generation winemaker, as he held a unique demonstration that graphically illustrated how the size and shape of the wine glass dramatically affects the tasting experience of different wines. It was a fact that was proven by Georg’s father, and I can tell you from personal experience, it is indeed, a fact. Georg is clearly a perfectionist, as well as evidenced by his presentation. But more than that, he is a charming Austrian who embodies that family legacy. Take a look…

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