Tempe Reichardt said it was the history and culture of wine that made her fall in love with the industry.
In addition, “There are so many fascinating people that work in the wine world, I wanted to be amongst them.”
Three years ago, Reichardt became CEO of Gabriel-Glas North America. The company makes a wine glass with a bowl that is shaped to act as a “gentle” decanter.
“One glass can be a solution to your wine drinking needs,” Reichardt said.
1 What was your first job?
I’m the product of a well-known three-generation family business called Reichardt (that included) a men’s shop, gift shop, and food and wine store in Grand Haven, Michigan.
I found that working in the wine department was the most stimulating area of the business for me.
I cut my teeth drinking first-growth Bordeaux, top Burgundies, Rhones, incredible German Rieslings; you name it.
Those wines rocked my world, and I knew that wine was in my future.
2 What happened to the Reichardt shops?
The Reichardt shops fell victim to an economic demise that struck many small towns throughout the U.S. As shopping malls proliferated, people’s shopping habits changed. My family held on for a long time, but most of the Reichardt shops closed in 1989.
3 What’s the worst job you ever had?
On-air reporter for the PBS television show “Nightly Business Report.”
I didn’t enjoy working with the people there. Prior to that experience I worked for several years as a television reporter in Washington, D.C., after graduating with a master’s from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, but I seemed to gravitate towards a more creative, freethinking world of California rather than D.C.
4 How did you get into this business?
While still working in D.C. in 1986, I took a trip to California and was enjoying a picnic on the beach with an amazing California chardonnay when I realized I could radically change my career and my life and move to California to work in the wine industry. So I quit my job, packed my car and drove west.
My first job in California was doing PR and marketing. From that experience, I started my first business, which was a wine export brokerage business.
In the process of marketing exciting California wines in Europe, I got to know some of the industry “movers and shakers,” among them René Gabriel.
René is the brain behind Gabriel-Glas, and a few years ago he asked me if I could introduce his “One for All” lead-free crystal wine glass into the U.S.
5 What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Changing the utterly false perception in the wine industry and among wine drinkers that varietal-specific glaswses are superior, and overcoming the marketing and advertising power of certain well-known competitive brands.
6. Where can consumers buy Gabriel-Glas stemware in Napa Valley?
They are sold at Dean & DeLuca and a number of different tasting rooms and online.
7. Who do you most admire in the business world?
Warren Buffett – I admire his keen business intellect and drive, but most importantly I respect him for using his power and wealth for philanthropic purposes, and in particular his collaboration with the Gates Foundation.
8. If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
I would have an ownership interest in the Gabriel-Glas brand and its intellectual property rather than only the exclusive license to import the brand into North America.
9. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I have never been to Tempe, Arizona.
10. If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
Without question right here in Napa.
Which three people would you most like to have dinner with?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
What job would you like to try/not try?
Try: CEO of a winery
Not try: Bus driver
What’s on your to-do list?
— Create a Gabriel-Glas universal wine glass “evolution.”
— Travel to countries I haven’t traveled to (I’m a consummate traveler having traveled to 40 countries).
— Learn something new every day.
— Establish a nonprofit entity which will help women and children in Africa.
What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?
Contributing a vast fortune — that I have built — to philanthropic causes.
What was your childhood ambition?
To be a leader.