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Cellar Chats

Hand-blown Glassware for Every Wine Drinker by GLASVIN

June 17, 2021

Written By Coravin

There’s nothing like drinking wine out of a well-made wine glass – David Kong, founder of GLASVIN, believes this to be true. In our conversation with Kong, he shared, “When I was living in New York, I would drink out of really great wine glasses at nice restaurants and they’d be really light and thin. But, the main problem with them was that they were very expensive.” From there, Kong made it his mission to make wine drinking more accessible without sacrificing design.

In 2019, GLASVIN was born. Learn more about this New York-based stemware company making handmade, hand-blown wine glasses which are blow to impress and priced to break. Read more about GLASVIN’s mission and values here and shop the glassware on our Coravin marketplace.

Watch the video and see the full transcript below.

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Hand-blown Glassware for Every Wine Drinker by GLASVIN

Lindsay Buck, Coravin: Today I'm talking to David Kong, founder of GLASVIN, whose products we carry on our marketplace at Coravin.com. GLASVIN was named one of the best products of 2020 by Food & Wine Magazine. Welcome, David.

David Kong, GLASVIN: Thank you for having me.

LB: How did you discover this gap in the market for accessible, hand-blown glassware?

DK: First of all, thanks for having me on the series. And, I just wanted to start by saying, I love Coravin. I've been using Coravin for, I think, five years – very early on from when you started and I probably use it every day. I always have it handy. Like you, our main goal is to make wine drinking accessible to a greater number of people. When I was living in New York, I would drink out of these really great wine glasses at these really nice restaurants and they’d be really light and thin. But, the main problem with them was that they were very expensive. They were probably $60 per stem, which is quite the stretch. For me, especially as I was getting into wine, I was really thinking about how we could create something that'd be similar in quality and feel to really elevate the drinking experience, but make that accessible to a much broader category of consumers.

LB: Yeah, absolutely. You have a beautiful product. Can you talk about the difference between machine-produced glassware and hand-blown? And in what ways does hand-blown glass enhance the drinking experience?

DK: That’s a great question. That's really the core value that we think our product brings to consumers. Once you use a hand-blown wine glass, it's really hard to go back to machine made glassware. You can see with a hand-blown glass, the stem is really, really thin. So, when you hold it, it's really easy to just hold with two fingers and then you're swirling it all night. It's a lot easier to swirl. It's also probably half the weight of other glasses ­– though, when you're drinking out of them, you're thinking more about the wine and the people you're around. The glass is no longer an impediment to you enjoying the wine and talking to your friends. It's almost like touching your hand because it's so light.

LB: Absolutely. It's kind of having less between you and your wine, right? 

DK: Exactly.

LB: Do you have a designer? How do you determine how the glassware will look?

DK: Yes, we have a designer – it's me. I'm not a real designer but I talk to a lot of sommeliers, a lot of people who understand wine, people who love wine, and we talk to our customers first and foremost to discuss what they need. The main principles that we have are the principles of any good design, which are things like simplicity and elegance and beauty and functionality. We bring that all in to make something that we're very happy to share with our customers.

LB: That's a good philosophy. When and why did you decide to do custom glassware?

DK: It started when we started getting some inbounds. We've had customers that really enjoyed our glassware, and they own businesses, and they were wondering whether or not we could help them improve their sales or offer something exclusive and interesting. Basically, someone from Other Half Brewing  bought one of our glasses for his wine drinking needs and he thought, “This would be a really great product to offer [our] customers.” Over a period of a couple of months, we worked with Other Half Brewery to make a custom glass and sold it for the Christmas season. I think it sold out in one day – so it was a massive success.

The handblown, custom glassware market is underserved. It's really hard for machine made glasses to be made custom because the production runs have to be so big and most of these companies only really need hundreds or thousands of glasses. That's where we are really great since we can make whatever you want, in any shape, and at various different prices and quality levels. And, we can make them in really small production runs.

LB: That's really cool. You don't hear about that very much. Do you think that's a big growth part of your business?

DK: We think that it could be a very big part of our business. Right now, I would say it's like a fairly small part of the business. But, we've had people reach out asking for Champagne glasses or Madeira glasses and so we'll work with them to make it. Then, if we think the product has commercial potential, we can mass produce it and sell it to all of our customers.

LB: That's probably a more cost-effective way. So, how are things going for you? Have the operations changed at all during the pandemic?

DK: That's a great question. The problem is we started selling our products basically at the start of the pandemic, so we don't have anything to compare pandemic life versus a pre-pandemic life because we're such a young company. But, we know that a lot of people, like yourself and myself, are not going to restaurants anymore.  So, we’re trying to bring that experience that they would have otherwise gotten at a nice restaurant back home. We think our wine glasses are a great way to do that.

LB: Absolutely. So, our company mission at Coravin is to change the way the world experiences wine. What is your favorite wine experience?

DK: It's great that that's your motto because that's kind of our motto, too. We want as many people [as possible] to experience wine better by using higher quality glasses – I think it's the easiest way to improve your wine drinking experience.

I think the thing that everyone needs to do if they're into wine is go do a bike ride through Burgundy. That's the one [of my favorite wine experiences] and that's probably my favorite vacation of all time. I was working in finance at the time and it was a long weekend and, you know, you don't get many vacations. What I did was it was just a two-day trip. I got to Changy and then biked to Dijon through Beaune. It was a two-day bike ride trip and we drank a lot of wine and it definitely was a super idyllic experience.

LB: Sounds incredible. Anything on the horizon for GLASVIN that you'd like to plug or tell our customers about?

DK: We just added a decanter to our line so now we have four different wine glasses, plus a decanter. But we are constantly taking our customers’ feedback and thinking about what new products to add so I wouldn't be surprised if we introduced another couple of interesting products in the next six months.