Family companies celebrating 50 or 100 years of activity are not uncommon, but anniversaries marking a quarter of a millennium in business are few and far between. Riedel, the Austria-based company that set the bar for stemware around the world, threw a lavish and extravagant party last week to mark its 250th anniversary.
The Riedel family dazzled guests representing 30 countries with celebrity guest speakers, concerts, mimes, acrobatic stunts and a beautiful choreography of human dance and fire at the family’s historic glassworks factory in Kufstein, Austria. Other highlights included the inauguration of The Riedel Glass Pyramid, a monument symbolizing the eleven generations to head the company, as well as the introduction of baby Rocco, representing the twelfth generation, as
“When you look into my eyes, you look into the eyes of a lucky man,” said Georg Riedel as he describes his family’s history. “I am lucky,” read a sign held up by Maximilian Riedel during a speech later in the evening.
Lady luck certainly followed the Riedel family through the difficult war years. In 1946, Claus Riedel (representing the ninth generation) jumped off a train carrying Allied prisoners of war to escape. He met the Tyrolean Swarovski family, who had been taught the art of glassmaking by Claus’ great grandfather, and they provided Riedel financial support to help the company back on its feet.
Riedel has since become one of the most important names in stemware. “Riedel created the need for wine glasses,” said Barbaresco winemaker Angelo Gaja who distributes Riedel glass in Italy. “What sets him apart is his passion for wine and his deep understanding of how the shape of a glass changes our perception of wine.”
Founded in 1756, just four months after Mozart was born, Riedel today owns the Nachtmann and Spiegelau brands. It sold 50 million units in 2005 for $300 million in sales.
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