An Exclusive Conversation with Maximilian Riedel, CEO and President of Riedel, by Liz Palmer

I am thrilled to conduct an in-person interview with Maximilian Riedel, the visionary CEO and President of Riedel, a company renowned globally for its innovative and high-quality glassware. Under Maximilian’s leadership, Riedel has continued to elevate the art of glassmaking, blending tradition with cutting-edge design to enhance our wine and spirits experience. In this exclusive conversation, Maximilian shares insights into the company’s journey, his personal inspirations, and the future of Riedel in the ever-evolving world of glassware craftsmanship. Let us delve into the mind of a leader who is redefining the way we savor our favorite beverages.

Company Vision and Strategy

Riedel has a long and storied history in the glassware industry. How do you balance tradition with innovation in your role as CEO?

“So, obviously, tradition is for me an orientation, but I see it in my back mirror, and sometimes it’s good and advisable to look into the back mirror, but it should never interfere with the cause of an entrepreneur.

We are in the present, we’re working for the future, and sometimes you also have to break with tradition to bring forward newness and excitement, and that’s exactly what I have been doing over the last 10 to 20 years.

So, I feel like I am in the midst, and I’m doing a good job in balancing them both.”

Product Development and Innovation

How does Riedel approach sustainability and environmental responsibility in its manufacturing processes?

“For us, this, of course, is a very important subject, especially since we live off raw materials, which are natural.

Lately, very challenging for any manufacturer in Europe because the cost for energy and raw materials has gone through the roof, and it’s challenging for us right now.”

Are there any upcoming products or innovations that you are particularly excited about?

“Always, but we remain creative, and every year we bring forward newness, and invest in our technology which allows us to bring forward products which are very unique to the market.”

Market and Industry Trends

How do you see the global market for luxury glassware evolving in the next 5 to 10 years?

“Amazing. I think we have not seen so much development like we did in the past 10 years.

Sadly, it’s coming to a halt because the wine industry is not booming anymore, and because of that, it’s a little bit challenging also for us as glassmakers because we are so connected.”

Personal Insights and Experiences

Growing up in a family business, what are some key lessons you learned from your father and mother?

“From my father and mother …everything, everything.

I’m in the business because of them.

They made it so exciting and so attractive to me that I wanted to join ever since, and the reason why I’m here is because of my parents.”

What motivates you both personally and professionally?

“Well, I’m living the dream.

I mean, who does not want to deal with wine and food and glass every day. I get to travel the world…. I get to meet very interesting people.

Also, thanks to social media, in my little environment, I’ve become a celebrity because of my passion for what I do.”

Future Outlook

What partnerships or collaborations are you currently exploring to expand Riedel’s reach and influence?

“Well, obviously we have a lot of partnerships with wine and champagne houses, but I think we need to look outside of that because we learned from Tiffany and other companies… right now partnerships with other companies, with other brands can be of great benefit so, we’re seeking for that.”

Maximilian Riedel’s Favorites

Let’s dive in and learn about your favorites.

What is your favorite Riedel Collection and why?

“I don’t have one because I love them all, otherwise I would discontinue them. I love them because of what they stand for and whatever comes handy, I use.”

What is your Favorite Decanter and why?

“Definitely the Ridel Eve Decanter, it’s one of many designs that I created… it’s my favorite.”

What is your favorite wine (if you had to choose one) and why?

“Don’t have one….It depends on the situation, depends on the momentum, depends on the people I’m with.

But, if it comes to champagne, I grew up with Dom Pérignon, and for sure it’s a wine I would look at.”

And lastly, my most important question [I also love vintage cars especially sport cars]…whilst your passion for wine runs deep, so does your love for collecting and driving your vintage sports cars on the track, through vineyards and through the European countryside, which car do you favour overall to drive through the vineyards?

Well, it’s similar to wine. I’m fortunate to have a few cars, and it’s also about the situation and the momentum. Cars are like beautiful pairs of shoes. You have one for every occasion, or you should have. I definitely have a passion for Porsche cars, and vintage Porsches with their air-cooled sound it’s very special.”

European Commission sets out the continent’s first soil law

Amid intense opposition to proposed laws on nature restoration and curbs on pesticides, the European Commission put forward proposals [the continent’s first soil law] in Brussels last week to revive degraded soils. Research indicates that this could help absorb carbon from the atmosphere and ensure sustainable food production.

The new law would see Member States monitor the health of soils, fertilizer use and erosion, but stops short of country-level targets for improving soil quality. This drew criticism from the European agri-food industry, which called for more ambition to improve the “worrying” state of soils.

The EU estimates at least 61% of the bloc’s soil is unhealthy, driven by factors including degradation of peatlands and intensive fertilizer use.

EU environment commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevičius states:

“If our soils continue to degrade, the biggest risk is to our food security and farmers. Basically, their business model is wiped out,” he said. “I can hardly imagine how we could do agriculture without fertile soils. The worst effects of droughts and floods can be avoided with healthier soils.”

The new law would not have legally binding targets, although “We are opening the way to additional income opportunities for farmers and landowners through a voluntary certification scheme for soil health and strong synergies with carbon farming and payments for ecosystem services,” Sinkevičius states.

One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B), the main representative of the European agri-food industry in Brussels, said the proposals did not go far enough. “The EU needs to go further to tackle the trend of deteriorating soil health in Europe,” said director Stefania Avanzini.

The European Commission is calling on Member States and the European Parliament to raise the ambition of the proposal. “We very much value the importance the commission gives to agriculture and its central role in the management of soil,” Avanzini said.

 

Ancient wine grapes related to today’s grape varieties, research shows

“A recent international study led by two Israeli universities analyzed 1,000-year-old seeds which were discovered at archaeological excavations in the Negev; the findings are ‘significant for Israel’s modern wine industry” research scientist states

A recent study led by the paleogenetic laboratory of the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History at Tel Aviv University and the University of Haifa analyzed DNA from ancient local wine grape seeds discovered at archaeological excavations in the Negev.

One seed was found to be almost identical to the Syriki variety used today to make high-quality red wine in Greece and Lebanon, while another seed is a relative of the white variety called Be’er, still growing in deserted vineyards in the dunes of Palmachim.

The genetic study was led by Dr. Pnina Cohen and Dr. Meirav Meiri of the paleogenetic lab at the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History at Tel Aviv University. The seeds were found at archaeological excavations led by Prof. Guy Bar-Oz from the School of Archaeology and Maritime Cultures at the University of Haifa, in collaboration with researchers from the Israel Antiquities Authority. Other participants included researchers from the University of Haifa, the Weizmann Institute, Bar-Ilan University, and research institutions in France, Denmark, and the U.K. The paper was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Archaeological excavations conducted in the Negev [Israel] in recent years have revealed a flourishing wine industry from the Byzantine and early Arab periods (around the fourth to ninth centuries A.D.), especially at the sites of Shivta, Haluza, Avdat, and Nizana, which were large, thriving cities at the time,” says Prof. Guy Bar-Oz from the University of Haifa.

“The findings include large winepresses, jugs in which the exclusive wine, exported to Europe, was stored, and grape seeds preserved for more than a thousand years. This industry gradually declined following the Muslim conquest in the 7th century, since Islam forbids the consumption of wine.”

“The cultivation of wine grapes in the Negev was renewed only in

Modern times, in the state of Israel, mostly since the 1980s. This industry, however, relies mainly on wine grape varieties imported from Europe.”

One especially interesting finding was a large hoard of grape seeds, discovered on the floor of a sealed room at Avdat. The researchers explain that these seeds have been relatively well-preserved thanks to protection from climatic phenomena such as extreme temperatures, flooding, or dehydration. To learn more about the seeds, in the hope of discovering which varieties they might belong to, the researchers prepared to extract their DNA in the paleogenetic lab.

“The science of paleogenomic uses a range of advanced technologies to analyze ancient genomes, primarily from archaeological findings,” explains Dr. Meiri from the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History at Tel Aviv University.

“Since the DNA molecule is very sensitive and disintegrates over time, especially under high temperatures, we usually get only small pieces of DNA, often in a poor state of preservation. To protect them we work under special conditions: the paleogenetic lab is an isolated clean laboratory, with positive air pressure that keeps contaminants out, and we enter it in sterilized ‘spacesuits’ familiar to everyone from the COVID pandemic.”

To begin with, the researchers looked for any organic matter remaining in the seeds. For this purpose, they used FTIR (Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy)—a chemical technique applying infrared radiation to produce a light spectrum that identifies the sample’s content. Finding remnants of organic matter in 16 seeds, the researchers went on to extract DNA from these samples.

The extracted DNA was sequenced, with an emphasis on about 10,000 genomic sites where variety-specific features are usually found, and the results were compared to databases of modern grapevines from around the world: In 11 samples, the quality of genetic material was too poor to allow any definite conclusions. Three of the remaining samples were identified as generally belonging to local varieties. Finally, the two samples of the highest quality, both from around 900 A.D., were identified as belonging to specific local varieties that still exist today.

Further details found here:

https://phys.org/news/2023-05-international-reveals-genetic-link-modern.html

Sources:

Tel-Aviv University, and
National Academy of Sciences

A leading nutrition scientist discovers red wine is good for us, but variety is key

Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, in his recent study which involved participants in the UK, US and Belgium. He suggests that wine drinkers look at drinking a wider range of red grape varieties, including unpopular varieties. In doing this, he states will boost our immune system, fight diseases, healthier gut and improve mental health.

He told Wine Blast podcast: “My advice for wine-lovers is keep loving wine and still drink wine, primarily for the pleasure, but at the back of your mind think, could I be trying different bottles or varieties that might actually be healthier for me and that I might enjoy?”

Professor Spector also states: “diversity is also important – if you take the analogy from foods, having a range of different grape varieties in your diet means that you are going to be helping different gut microbes inside you and you will increase your gut health and diversity. So, don’t just stick with the same wine. Get out there. try the hundreds or thousands of different grape varieties that we generally don’t enjoy.”

“Let’s get those rare ones back on the map again, because each of those could be helping you nourish really healthy gut microbes inside you and improve your health.’ A study led by Professor Spector’s team in 2019 found those who drank red wine had a wider range of gut bacteria. this was not seen for white wine, which may be because red wine has the grape skins left in for most of the fermentation process, so has high levels of polyphenols – plant compounds which are good for the gut.

Professor Spector is not suggesting people have full power to over-indulge in red and states: “The trick is to get the dose right, as always. That’s something that we all struggle with and it’s very individual. That’s why this government approach, [where] most countries say there are a certain amount of units that most men and women should have, is problematic.”

“Your response to alcohol is highly personalised and of course some people can’t drink it at all. So, we think that alcohol on one hand in large amounts is harmful but in small amounts, if might be okay.”

Neal Family Vineyard [Napa] are officially “Regenerative Organic Certified®”

Napa Valley’s biodynamic winegrowing pioneer Mark Neal has recently announced that his Howell Mountain estate winery, Neal Family Vineyards, has achieved Regenerative Organic Certified® as recognized by the Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA). The ROA was established in 2018 and is today considered the highest level of certification. There are only five vineyard estates worldwide that hold Regenerative Organic Certified® status and Neal Family Vineyards now represents the first Napa Valley vineyard to receive this certification.

“I first achieved organic certification in 1984 but being the first in Napa Valley to achieve the Regenerative Organic Certified® stamp of approval is still an exciting accomplishment for us because of what it stands for,” said Neal, vintner, founder, and owner of Neal Family Vineyards. “ROA was founded to address climate change, soil degradation, biodiversity loss, factory farming and fractured rural communities globally.  Regenerative organic agriculture is a collection of practices that focus on regenerating soil health and the full farm ecosystem. This new certification goes farther than any other organic certification – including CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) – by requiring specific farming practices that build soil health, ensure fairness to farmers and farm workers, and improve animal welfare. We have always exclusively used organic and biodynamic practices in our vineyards, and this certification further cements that commitment to the land and our community.”

Mark Neal is considered one of Napa Valley’s earliest organic and biodynamic pioneers and the valley would not be where it is today without his early advocacy for organic farming. He and his father started Jack Neal & Son (JNS) in 1968 and his vineyards have been certified organic starting in 1984 – long before there was any marketing cachet around sustainability. Today, under Mark’s leadership, Jack Neal & Son manages the most CCOF Certified acres in Napa Valley and can claim the largest biodynamic farming operation in the United States, effectively making Mark Neal one of Napa Valley’s most influential grape growers when it comes to ethical farming.

For more information visit  www.NealVineyards.com/

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