It’s a new decade, but we still find ourselves drinking from the same old bottles. Will this continue into 2020? We caught up with Coravin’s founder, Greg Lambrecht, for insight on the increased demand for sustainable wines, how Millennial wine drinkers are evolving the industry, and why this Asian country is going to be the next hot spot for winemaking that will knock your socks off. Read on to learn more. 

Sustainability is a large focus for many going into 2020, and frankly the new decade, especially when it comes to the foods we eat and what we drink. How do you think wineries will continue to adapt to this growing demand for low-intervention wines

This is going to be a growing trend. Global warming and the environmental impact of our biochemical battles with pests and blights are becoming increasingly obvious and undeniable.  While the shift toward sustainable, organic, biodynamic and potentially even “natural” wines will increase, the hype about it may exceed the reality, with these terms popping up on labels with likely little or variable regulation. Buyer beware, but I am still an optimist that much of this change will be real and positive for the industry.

Consumers are also expected to put more time, money and energy into experiences that are life-enriching in the new decade. Do you think restaurateurs and sommeliers will continue to follow suit? How so?

Life is what you remember it to be, and hence great memories of unique and positive experiences will always be worth seeking. The restaurants and the sommeliers who are creative and focused on delivering such experiences to their customers will do better, as long as they maintain a profitable business. Well thought out pairing programs, epic wines by the glass, exploration of new regions, and flights of wine organized by region, grape, or vintage that are both memorable and educational will highlight the chef and sommelier’s talents and engender memorable conversations amongst their guests both in the restaurant and through social media.  Amplifying the opportunity for such creativity in wine offering without waste is what Coravin is going to continue to strive to accomplish as part of this trend.

Along with experiences, it’s also expected people may invest more in education and grow their passion points. We’re seeing this transpire in the wine world with a record number of WSET enrollees in recent years. How do you think this will impact the wine industry in the decade ahead? Do you have any advice for young enthusiasts just starting out?

Variety in wine offerings in retail, online, and at the restaurant is going to need to expand to meet the educational desires of the modern wine enthusiast. Gone are the days when understanding four or five regions is enough to feel educated in wine. With more regions producing great wines from both well known international grapes and distinct local varieties, learning about wine has become both more complex and much more fun. My advice, travel.  There is no better way to learn about a region, its grapes, wines, land, and food than to be there. If you can’t travel, my advice is to learn by the grape. Pick a variety, like Syrah, and purchase wines from Chile, California/Washington, Australia, France, and then taste through them side-by-side while reading online about the regions they are from. As you identify particular regions you love, dive in deep, learn more, and surface again to explore the next grape. It’s a lifetime pursuit that is nothing but fun.

There has been much speculation in the past couple of years on how the growing (and aging) Millennial wine consumers will change the way wine is experienced, tasted and created. Do you think we’ve seen a change? Will this keep up into this decade and evolve even more? 

Yes, the Millennial generation is changing wine. They are interested in a broader variety of grape and region than prior generations and have lifted up wines from the new world (Chile, Argentina, RSA, New Zealand, etc.) and the very old (Greece, Croatia, Georgia, etc.), and grape varieties that nobody discussed or served when I was younger. This change has been wonderful for the wine consumer in general as it shows the extraordinary breadth and complexity of flavor we can get from this amazing relationship between the human and the grape. Expect to see more variety, more exploration, and more complexity for the next few years. I also anticipate that new regions will stop trying to copy the benchmark as the consumer will be seeking regionally specific flavors distinct to the influences of culture and land.

China has emerged lately as a strong and growing wine market. Do you think this will continue? Is there an emerging wine region you have your eye on and think will grow in popularity over the next decade?

YES! I have been spending a good deal of time in China and their wine production is improving dramatically. One word – Marselan. Prepare yourself! The Chinese are perfecting white wines made from this esoteric grape variety and it is delicious. The wine world will need to get used to unfamiliar words like the region of Ningxia – my pick for the region of China that will lead to the best of Chinese wines in the near future.

As an engaged member of the wine community, what additional changes do you foresee for the world of wine in the new year that may have a lasting impact through the next decade? 

I expect some changes in wine packaging, in particular with a growth in the use of screw caps.  As vintners have learned how to optimize their wine-making techniques to match the closure, the quality of screw-caps for long term preservation and the simplicity of opening will crowd out artificial corks and begin to take share in more expensive wines. Millennials are also much less tradition-bound to closures, so more and better wines will come under alternative closures.

What are your predictions for the wine industry in 2020? Share your thoughts with us in the comments or on social media by tagging @Coravin.