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Interview with Greg Lambrecht, inventor of the Coravin (the festival’s 2020 title sponsor)

greg lambrecht

Above: Greg Lambrecht, inventor of the Coravin, the 2020 festival’s title sponsor (image courtesy Coravin).

After it was first released to the public in 2013, the Coravin “wine preservation system” radically reshaped fine wine appreciation in the US.

The concept of the Coravin wine preservation system is as simple as it is brilliant: The device’s needle is inserted into the cork of a bottle, allowing users to “access” the wine without exposing it to oxygen (wine’s enemy). As a result, the wine can be enjoyed over the course of days, weeks, months, and even years without losing its vibrancy.

When you uncork a bottle of wine, the wine begins to aerate, causing the wine to evolve. That’s part of the beauty and magic of enjoying wine.

But if a bottle of wine is left open too long, the wine can begin to spoil. In some cases, an opened bottle can go bad after even just 24 hours of exposure to oxygen.

The advent of the Coravin wine preservation system changed all that. For the first time ever, wine shops can offer customers tastes of multiple wines without sacrificing the entire contents of the bottle. Restaurants can offer guests glasses of high-end and rare wines, instead of selling them the whole bottle.

For this year’s virtual version of the Boulder Burgundy Festival, event founder Brett Zimmerman has partnered with Coravin as the gathering’s first-ever title sponsor.

Because festival attendees will be tasting the wines at home (as opposed to a social setting where each guest would be served a single glass of each different type of wine), the Coravin wine preservation system makes it possible for attendees to enjoy the wines without compromising the entire contents of each bottle.

We recently spoke to Coravin inventor Greg Lambrecht to ask him about the new partnership and how the Coravin has changed wine appreciate in ways that no one could have expected. Lambrecht will be one of the featured speakers at the Domaine Comtes Lafon tasting and seminar with Dominque Lafon on Friday, November 6.

What led you to partner with Brett Zimmerman and the Boulder Burgundy Festival as the gathering’s first-ever title sponsor?

First of all, I love Burgundy. And I really like Brett. I met him a few years ago at a big wine event out in San Francisco and liked him from then on out.

I want to promote what he’s doing because number one, I love the wines he sells and I love his knowledge and his passion.

He’s doing one of the regions that produces some of the most incredible and exciting wines that everybody treasures, struggles to understand, and struggles to copy. They’re really just so unique and so incredible. And it’s a great group of people that produce Burgundy wine. So I’ve got a tremendous passion for Burgundy.

I love how Brett thinks, I love his depth of knowledge, and I love how he tries to take what he loves and channel that into festivals and get people excited about what he loves.

What are some of the unexpected applications for Coravin that have surprised you?

The creativity of our consumers — whether they’re at home, at restaurants, in wine stores, in the wine trade, or in the wineries themselves.

People use Coravin to sample bottles to see if they’re ready to drink. People sample a bottle before they take it out to an event or a party or over to friends’ houses to make sure that it’s not corked and that the wine is drinking well.

Château Margaux (one of Bordeaux’s most celebrated “first growth” estates) was the first winery to start sampling wines before they sent them to events. They used to send a couple of bottles in case one was corked.

But I found out that a lot of wineries do this now. They’ll sample bottles to make sure they’re drinking well.

Château Margaux [also] uses it now for re-corking. Every 20 years or so they would need to re-cork the wines that they have in their library.

They used to pull the corks on a dozen wines or two dozen wines and then go through them to see which ones had gone bad. [Then they] grab the one that is drinking best and fill up the ullage [the amount of wine by which a bottle falls short of being full] in the others with the one that they think is drinking best.

The bottles used to be open for a half hour or 45 minutes. Now they use Coravin to sample all the bottles and find the ones that are not okay. And they’re just opening, refilling, and closing. So the bottles open for just a second or two — super cool use.

What was your Eureka Moment in creating the Coravin?

When I built the first prototype Coravin, it was called the “wine mosquito” because my three-year-old son named it.

[At home], we rarely drank wine. But I loved it. And I never had the “purpose” to open a bottle. I would never drink a bottle entirely on my own.

But I realized that what excites me is the variety of wine. It’s infinitely variable — there are 140,000 different bottlings every year, and each bottle changes as time goes on. So I wanted to learn fast.

[After years of developing the prototype], I finally managed to pour my first half glass of wine from a bottle. That same evening, I drank from five different bottles. Immediately. And it was a Tuesday! I tasted five different wines that I was saving to open up when somebody special came over, which is something that never happens [laughs].

I had all these wines that were too good to drink. I was never going to drink them. And in one evening, I tasted five of them. I was able to drink these wines that I would have otherwise not have touched.

In three days, to taste 15 different wines as a home consumer, I was like, “I’m never going back. This is how I’m going to drink wine.”

It’s the variety that makes Coravin — the opening of the potential variety — that makes Coravin what it is. Now I have a by-the-glass program in my house.

At this year’s festival, you’ll be speaking at the virtual tasting and seminar with Burgundy producer Dominique Lafon. Can you give us a preview of the event?

I am fanboy of white Burgundy producers. And his white Burgundies are just otherworldly.

I want to hear from him what, over the course of his career, what he has learned and the reasons why his wine is so unique and distinct from other wines that are grown nearby. To find out what portion of the beauty of his wine is him. And what portion of it is the land and the sunlight and the microclimate: How (and how drastically) do his decisions influence the incredible nature of his wines?

It’s a sort of nature vs. nurture thing. In the end, I’m a fan.

BBF 2019 Tickets NOW ON SALE

Click here to browse events and purchase.


The 2019 Boulder Burgundy Festival will take place October 31 – November 3 in downtown Boulder.

This year’s featured winemaker is Jean-Marc Roulot (above) of Domaine Roulot, producer of some of Burgundy’s most sought-after bottlings of Mersault.

He will be the host of the marquee dinner at Frasca on Saturday, November 2, and will lead a seminar and guided tasting of his wines on Sunday, November 3, before the Grand Tasting.

From his importer’s website:

Domaine Roulot has always been among the best producers of Chardonnay in Burgundy. Under the guidance of Jean-Marc Roulot, the domaine is now amongst the few whose wines are always sold out even before they are in bottle. Jean Marc’s wines have the same precision and energy as the individual. Like the man, they are full of spirit and intensity.

Click here for all events and ticketing info.

Acclaimed wine writer and sommelier Kelli White to speak at Sunday seminar

We couldn’t be more thrilled to announced that Kelli White, one of the top wine writers and sommeliers working in the U.S. today, will be joining us as a panelist for the Sunday morning seminar this year!


About Kelli:

Kelli A. White is the Senior Staff Writer for GuildSomm. Prior to that, her work as a sommelier, first at New York City’s Veritas and then at PRESS in St. Helena, has been covered by many of the wine industry’s top publications, including Food & Wine, VinousThe Wine AdvocateThe Wine Spectator, the San Francisco Chronicle, World of Fine Wine, and Forbes; in 2013 she was named one of Food & Wine’s top ten sommeliers in the country. Her writing has appeared in World of Fine Wine, Robb ReportSommelier JournalLe Pan, and Vinous. At Vinous, Kelli was a key member of the maps team, and worked with famed Italian cartographer Alessando Masnaghetti to map many of the appellations of Napa Valley. In 2016, she was nominated for the highly prestigious Roederer Award for Best Emerging Wine Writer. Her book, Napa Valley, Then & Now, was released in November of 2015 and has received enormous critical acclaim, winning both the IACP award for Best New Wine, Beer, or Spirits Book as well as a Graphis design award. In 2011, she co-founded a small wine brand called Houndstooth and she also made a brief appearance in 2015’s documentary Somm II: Into the Bottle. In October of 2016, Kelli led a wine tasting seminar at Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women’s Summit in Laguna Niguel, CA. Most recently, she was nominated for Sommelier/Wine Director of the Year (2017) by Wine Enthusiast magazine.

More recently, she was nominated for another Roederer Award this year (Online Communicator) and was included in this year’s “40 Under 40” tastemakers list by the editors of Wine Enthusiast.

Acclaimed wine writer and Burgundy expert Pierre Rovani is our featured speaker


We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce that acclaimed taster, writer, and Burgundy expert Pierre Rovani (above) will be joining us for both the Saturday night dinner and Sunday morning seminar.

Some may remember Pierre’s years at the Wine Advocate where he was handpicked by Robert Parker to cover Burgundy for the publication.

Since 2005, he has served as the president of Remoissenet Père et Fils, one of Beaune’s oldest and most revered estates. He will be presenting a flight of Remoissenet wines at both gatherings.

Raj Parr to join Eric Asimov for this year’s main event (REGISTRATION NOW OPEN)

raj parr burgundy

This year’s Burgundy seminar (Sunday, October 15) is really shaping up to be an star-studded event: Not only will New York Times wine critic and author Eric Asimov be our keynote speaker but celebrity sommelier and fine wine guru Raj Parr will be joining him for this year’s panel.

Raj (above, center) has taken part in the Boulder Burgundy Festival in years past and we are really excited to welcome him back.

Hands down, Raj is one of the world’s leading experts on the wines of Burgundy and his wine list at RN74 (named after the famed Route Nationale 74 that runs through the heart of Burgundy, the “Route des Grands Crus”) is widely considered to be one of the best Burgundy programs in the world.

Author, winemaker (with his excellent Domaine de la Côte in Santa Barbara county), and sommelier truly extraordinaire, Raj is also one of the most accessible and approachable wine professionals working in the U.S. The best part of having him with us is getting to interact and taste with him. You’ll see him at other events as well: In the past, he’s poured at the Paulée lunch and other tastings as well. Such a treat to have him with us.


Meet and taste with Paul Wasserman, one of the world’s foremost Burgundy authorities

paul wasserman

Above: Not only is Paul Wasserman one of the world’s foremost authorities on Burgundy but he also grew up there and even played in a rock band in Beaune. How’s that for authenticity?

One of the most anticipated events of this year’s Boulder Burgundy Festival is the “A tour of Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru” seminar on October 25.

Yes, grape grower and winemaker Jean-Charles le Bault de la Morinière will be there to discuss the wines of his family’s historic Bonneau du Martray estate.

And yes, Food & Wine magazine’s executive wine editor Ray Isle (you know, the guy from the “Today Show”) and one of the most beloved wine writers in the country will be there as well.

But many of the Burgundy insiders will come just to get to taste and interact with Paul Wasserman (above) of the famed Wasserman family in Burgundy.

Not only has Paul spent his entire adult life as a merchant of fine wine and of Burgundy in particular, but he literally grew up in Burgundy after his family relocated there when he was a child. He even played in a rock band in Beaune.

The wine trade know Paul and his brother Peter as some of the leading wine professionals working in the U.S. today.

But when you get to spend some time with him, you begin to realize that this polyglot and polymath dude is one of the more charismatic and fascinating personages you’ll ever meet in the wine world.

He’s equally at home discussing the finer points of Burgundy soil types as he is discussing a Charlie Parker solo or a Jimi Hendrix lead (a lot of people don’t know that he studied at the CIM École de Jazz et Musiques Actuelles in Paris).

He’s also a prolific writer, even though a self-effacing one.

Check out this superb stand-alone piece that he wrote about the Domaine Bonneau du Martray, its history, and its historic relationship with Corton-Charlemagne (highly recommended even if you’re not attending the festival).

Whether you’re attending the Sunday seminar or not, one of the greatest things about the Boulder Burgundy Festival is that its dimension and its chill vibe make even its marquee-name speakers accessible to guests.

Paul Wasserman alone is worth the price of admission.

Click here for the complete Boulder Burgundy Festival 2015 schedule and registration page.