Interview with Coravin Founder, Greg Lambrecht

IntoWine recently caught up with the Coravin System's founder, Greg Lambrecht, to discuss what the Coravin can do for you and to get the latest on this wine drinking invention and what affect it will have on the wine industry.

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What is the inspiration behind the Coravin System? 

As a medical device inventor with a passion for wine and innovative technology, I came up with the idea of the Coravin out of necessity.  My wife Lee became pregnant with our second child and stopped drinking wine with me.  I wanted a great glass of wine with dinner, but didn't want to commit to the whole bottle.

I briefly tried preservation systems, but they didn't deliver what I was looking for –  a way of drinking the glasses of wine I wanted, when I wanted, without having to worry about the wine remaining in the bottle going bad.  I realized the problem was removing the cork.  Cork does a great job preserving wine and preventing oxidation.  I thought if I could just get the wine out without removing the cork, my problem would be solved.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.

I'd developed some needle-based products early in my medical device career, and used that experience to develop the first Coravin prototype.  (My son is now 14, so it was a while in development.)  Most of that time was spent experimenting with different needles, gasses and pressures to get the system to the point where I couldn't tell the difference between glasses from bottles previously accessed years ago and unaccessed bottles.  It was a fun hobby until I founded the company in 2011.

How does it work?

The Coravin System™ allows users to pour wine while leaving the cork in place.  This eliminates the start of the oxidation process associated with removal of the cork.  First, a thin, hollow needle passes through the foil and cork to access the wine.  Then, the bottle is pressurized with argon, an inert gas in the air we breathe that winemakers have been using for years.  The positive pressure of the argon gas allows the wine to flow through the needle, out of the bottle and into the glass without allowing any oxygen into the bottle.

Once the needle is removed, the cork naturally reseals itself, and the remaining wine continues to evolve naturally.  The Coravin System can be used to access the same bottle multiple times without issue.

What are the advantages of being able to remove the wine while leaving the cork intact?

Leaving the cork in place eliminates the start of the oxidation process associated with removal of the cork so users can access the same bottle of wine over time without worrying about it going bad due to oxidation.  Some of Coravin’s test locations prior to our launch accessed the same wines as many as 15 times without detectable degradation of wine.  I have personally accessed multiple wines over the course of years as many as 4 times in 750 ml bottles and 7 times in magnums without detectable changes in the wine relative to unaccessed bottles.  I even opened a bottle of 2000 Bordeaux in July of this year that I first accessed in December, 2003 and again in 2005 and it was still drinking beautifully.

Who is the target demographic for this wine management device? 

The Coravin System is the perfect device for wine enthusiasts and collectors, restaurants and wine bar owners, sommeliers and wine stores and wineries. Coravin enables wine enthusiasts to freely explore wine glass by glass over multiple occasions, without committing to the whole bottle.

The level of certainty about the continued quality of the wine I've accessed has completely changed the way I enjoy and explore wine and now others are getting to experience this as well. I now can taste three or four bottles in an evening, perhaps different wines from the same region or different vintages of the same wine, all from bottles I would have hesitated to open at all before Coravin. It's been incredibly liberating in my enjoyment of this incredibly varied and complex beverage. 

How would this device benefit restaurants and wine bars?

Restaurants and wine bars can now offer a much broader selection of fine wines by the glass with Coravin. Now they can serve by the glass offerings from their finest bottles without fear of waste, and encourage guests to try iconic wines they might not have tried otherwise. They are also free to create special flights, verticals and new food and wine pairings. Coravin also empowers wine stores and wineries to offer customized tastings to support increased opportunities for bottle sales. Retail outlets can now offer vertical or horizontal tastings, inspect bottles for flaws and faults, and customize and expand their tastings

If you can take wine out, can you also put wine in? 

Coravin is not designed to and cannot be used to put wine back into the bottle due to how the needle and argon work. It only takes wine out.

Where can the Coravin System be purchased?

The Coravin 1000 System is available for purchase at our website www.coravin.com. We’ll also be included in the soon-to-be released 2013 Neiman Marcus Christmas Book so that is another place wine enthusiasts can order Coravin for themselves or as a great holiday gift. Coravin sells for $299 and additional argon capsules cost $29.95 for the Coravin Capsule three-pack.

BIO

Greg Lambrecht, Founder

Greg Lambrecht is the inventor, founder and board member of Coravin, LLC, a consumer product company bringing to market a transformational product used to access wine without removing the cork. Mr. Lambrecht is also Founder and Executive Director of Intrinsic Therapeutics, Inc, a venture-backed medical device company focused on addressing the needs of patients with spinal disorders. In addition Mr. Lambrecht is the founder and board member of Viacor, Inc., a start-up medical device company in the Boston area.

Prior to this, Mr. Lambrecht was Vice President of Product Development & Marketing at Stryker, a global orthopedic implant company where he directed the development and launch of numerous successful orthopedic implants. Mr. Lambrecht also held various management positions in product development, marketing, and business development within Pfizer’s Medical Technology Group. The core of his career at Pfizer was directed at implementing a process for inventing and developing technologies that best met the needs of Pfizer’s physician customers worldwide. Mr. Lambrecht holds a Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He holds numerous patents in the fields of gynecology, general surgery, cardiology, and orthopedics.