Interview: Coravin CEO Christopher Ladd on Wine Trends and Innovation

Coravin changed the way we drink wine when it launched the Wine Preservation Opener in 2013. Rather than needing to finish a whole bottle soon after opening, Coravin’s technology allowed for repeated pours over the course of a much longer time period. This was a boon to both restaurants and oenophiles alike.

The company has continued to innovate, with an eye towards reshaping how consumers everywhere enjoy wine. For a look at what’s next from Coravin, and wine trends in 2021, we recently hopped onto a Zoom call with CEO Christopher Ladd.

StateWays: What’s new with Coravin?

Christopher Ladd: The wine trade can be elitist, but 90% of all wine consumed in the U.S. off-premise is under $20. We’re trying to have more options for that subset of consumer. We’re trying to lower the prices on our existing products, as well. We have our Model 3 Wine Preservation Opener down to $149 from $199.

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We also now have our $99 Pivot. Pull the cork and put in this stopper and you can drink the wine like it was fresh for up to four weeks. We think this is a great value. We’re trying to bring more products to more people.

Later in this summer we’re bringing a champagne and sparkling wine product to the market. We’ve tested it for the last six months or so. We’re getting almost a month’s preservation, which for us means that the last glass of a wine is as good as the first.

Coravin CEO Christopher Ladd.

W: We imagine the business shifted dramatically during 2020.

CL: We saw a massive shift to digital, especially Amazon and direct to consumer. Obviously it’s been a really challenging time for the trade. We do a lot of business with wineries and they’re also going through challenges.

But we as a company did not lay off a single person in 2020. Anything online tripled in growth, especially as wine clubs grew so much. That offset losses elsewhere. We hope 2021 is even better as the world gets back to normal.

SW: What do you see in terms of current wine trends?

CL: When you look at macro data, the wine industry grew 17% in the past year, but it was almost all off-premise. Obviously that has to do with on-premise restrictions. People are coming in and out of restaurants and not spending a lot of time in there. A lot of that behavior has shifted to the home.

So the wine industry is now about being able to connect with consumers as best we can, and much of that occurs virtually. We did a wine tasting with 10,000 people in April that was virtual. We accelerated our digital plans three years in the past nine months.

Pivot, by Coravin

Though I do think we are poised to see great growth coming out of the pandemic, as our hospitality partners come back to normal.

We’re betting with Pivot that younger consumers will continue to enter the wine industry, and find their preferences. The Millennial group is an experiential audience. Once they’ve seen the breadth and depth of wine, they’ll love it.

We believe the sparkling trend will continue to see growth. At-home consumption, as well. Overall there’s also the movement towards health and wellness, and moderating consumption. Our products are perfect for that.

SW: A retailer once told us that Coravin was the first nonalcoholic product a customer requested by name. Why have you succeeded at retail?

CL: We solved a problem that a lot of people didn’t know they had. Once people use our product, it really changes the way that they consumer. Normally you consume wine vertically. You pop the cork and then go through that bottle. Now you can drink vertically. You can pour a wide variety of glasses over time. I’ve hosted parties (before Covid, of course) where I’ll have 30 bottles of wine out on the table along with three-to-four Coravins. You can now drink the wine you want. It completely changes the way that we’ve drunk wine for centuries.

Kyle Swartz is editor of StateWays magazine. Reach him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com or on Twitter @kswartzz.

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