History of the Riedel Glass Company

The Riedel glass company was founded in 1756 and has been producing glass for almost 260 years and eleven generations in the heart of Europe. Georg J. Riedel (10th generation) and Maximilian J. Riedel are the owners and operators (11th generation). Riedel is known around the world for designing and manufacturing the highest quality wine and liquor glasses. Riedel is used by top-rated wineries and restaurants all over the world, and it has collections for every lifestyle and budget, whether for wine tasting, picnic, or dinner.

Johann Cristoph Riedel, who was born in 1673, was the first Riedel in the premium glassware business. He lived in Pavlovice, manor Neuschloss, in northwest Bohemia, between Haida and Steinschönau, which would become world centers of commerce for Bohemian crystal glass in the early eighteenth century. He traveled around Europe, trading glass. The profits from the business justified his long, laborious, and perilous journeys, but he was tragically slain in 1723, leaving behind his wife and three sons.

Johann Carl Riedel, 2nd generation (1701-1781), constructed his own house and worked as a glass painter in Falkenau, near Haida. He was appointed town magistrate in 1739. (der Vogt). In 1723, he married Anna Elizabeth, the daughter of a wealthy glass family, and the couple had 11 children, just two of whom lived to adulthood. Johann Carl moved to Antoniwald in the Jizera Mountains in 1753, putting his eldest son Johann Leopold in charge of the Neuwiesse glassworks from 1766 until 1769.


A View of the Riedel Wine Glass Company. Source: commons

The Next Generation of Riedels

The next generation, Anton Leopold Riedel (1761-1821), was Johann Leopold’s eldest son and the first Riedel born at Antoniwald, in the Jizera Mountains. Anton Leopold oversaw the Neuwiese glassworks for his father before purchasing them in 1795. He made crystal and hollow glass, colored glass, perfume bottles, and chandelier components, among other things. It was also here that some of the first glass costume jewelry was created. In 1809, he established a glass plant in Mistrovice, near Haida, to manufacture cut, engraved, and painted hollow glass. In 1814, he rented the glassworks of Count Desfours in Antoniwald.

In his youth, Franz Xaver Riedel, fifth-generation (1786-1844), became a prominent engraver, and his works of art may still be found at auctions today. He ran his father’s glassworks in Neuwiese from 1814 to 1821 before becoming the leaseholder of the Zenknerhütte in Antoniwald. In Wilhemshöhe, he established his glassworks in 1829. He mostly made hollow glass rods and sticks for costume jewelry, as well as perfume bottles. Judith, his first wife, was from a wealthy glass family. Franz and his nephew Josef used Uranium to create vivid yellow and green glass, which they named “Annagelb and Annagrün” after Franz’s daughter.

Josef Riedel The Elder (6th generation, 1816-1894) became his uncle Franz Xaver’s assistant when he was 14 years old, eventually marrying Franz Xaver’s daughter Anna. Josef benefited from being born during the Industrial Revolution. By 1858, he had eight glassworks, two huge textile mills, and coal mines under his control. His glassworks made mostly glass jewelry, beads, and chandelier pieces, but they also made luxury hollow glass products starting in 1873. Josef earned the “Grand Prix” at the World Fair in Vienna the following year. The Pope bestowed an Order upon him. He was granted honorary citizenship by the towns of Franzesbad and Wiesenthal. Josef was dubbed “The Glass King of the Jizera Mountains” by many. Josef’s sons registered the first Riedel logo in 1895.

Riedel, Josef The Younger (7th generation, 1862-1924) was Josef Riedel’s only son. His second marriage, and he was the firm’s CEO for ten years (1914-1924). Josef was a brilliant chemist and mechanical engineer who created hundreds of different glass colors. Josef invented innovative apparatus for mass-producing seed beads, which were utilized in jewelry and textiles. He also made bangles, pressed glass, and technically advanced glass for outdoor lighting, among other things. He erected a mansion for his wife Paula in Tiefenbach in 1894, which is still one of the most beautiful historic structures in the Jizera Mountains. Emperor Franz Josef 1 bestowed the Austrian Crown Order to Josef The Younger in 1906.

Walter Riedel (8th generation 1895-1974), was the eldest son of Josef The Younger. Both world wars had a significant impact on Walter’s life, and he was compelled to change his citizenship four times as a result of the sad circumstances. When Walter joined the family business in 1918, Bohemia was annexed by Czechoslovakia, and he, along with many other German speakers from the Sudentenland, became Czech citizens. During this time, the Riedels established themselves as a major manufacturer of glass jewelry and crystalware, as well as seed beads, lamps, technical glass, and luxury glass items. For his performances at the International Exhibition in Paris (1925) and later at the World Fair in Paris, Walter received the “Grand Prix” (1937).

During The War

Walter inherited his father’s mechanical genius, producing cutting-edge mold processes. During the war, the Nazis seized control of the firm, forcing it to shift from consumer goods to strategic war products. When the Russian army captured Berlin in 1945, they discovered an intact picture tube (a component of radar used to monitor airspace) and demanded to know who was responsible. Walter was compelled to sign a five-year contract during the Stalin era, and he was eventually imprisoned in Russia for ten years.

The Czechoslovaks had stolen the Riedels’ home and factories by the end of World War I, in 1945. Walter Riedel eventually returned to Austria in 1955. Walter and his son Claus Josef were offered a new start in Kufstein by the Swarovski family, who were close friends of the Riedels. They took over glassworks and began producing mouth-blown products in 1956.

The Design of The New Era

Claus Josef Riedel, who lived from 1925 until 2004, had a vision. He switched from traditional colorful and cut glass to basic, unadorned thin-blown RIEDEL wine glasses with long stems. He was immediately recognized by affluent customers and museums. Many design accolades heralded the start of a new era for the Riedel glass company.

Museums purchased works for exhibitions, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which has Riedel in its permanent collection to this day. Claus Riedel was the first person in history to recognize the impact of forms on the perception of alcoholic beverages based on his unique designs and it is here where RIEDEL wine glasses as we know them today were born.

His work has permanently influenced and modified the look of stemware. His masterwork “Sommeliers,” the first-ever stemware series based on the flavor of wine, was debuted in Orvieto in 1973.

The personal and professional philosophies of Georg J Riedel are the same. “I am a person who lives in the present rather than looking back,” says Riedel Glas Austria’s managing director. “Our commitment to quality necessitates constant innovation,” Riedel explains. “As a result, we regularly invest in the modernization of our production facilities, resulting in the creation of a significant number of new jobs in various markets.”

Praise from The Museum of Modern Art

In 2013, Maximilian J. Riedel, the 11th generation of the family-owned company situated in Kufstein, Austria, was appointed CEO and President of RIEDEL Crystal. Maximilian has received praises from The Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco MoMA, and the Corning Museum of Glass for his groundbreaking stemless “O” glassware collection, which he designed and commercialized in 2004. He is the chief designer of the glassware company’s decanters, in addition to his leadership of Riedel Crystal globally.

Maximilian furthered RIEDEL’s commitment to the hospitality industry by introducing the RIEDEL Restaurant and Restaurant Sommeliers lines, which provide RIEDEL wine glasses to restaurants and hotels at a lower cost and with greater durability, allowing beverage directors easier access to their favorite “wine tools.”


1756: In the year 1756, the RIEDEL glass company was established and since then, it has been producing glass for almost 260 years and eleven generations in the heart of Europe.

1673: In the year 1674, Johann Christoph Riedel was born and he was the first Riedel in the premium glassware business. He lived in Pavlovice, in northwest Bohemia, between Haida and Steinschönau, which would both become epicenters for Bohemian crystal in the early 18th century. He was later tragically slain in the year 1723, leaving behind a wife and two sons.

Also read: Explore Riedel Wine Glasses

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Categories: Products, This Day in Wine History | ArticlesTags: , , , , , By Published On: September 13, 2022Last Updated: February 27, 2024

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