Wine Writer Jancis Robinson Donates Personal Papers to UC Davis

Jancis Robinson holds a glass of wine
Wine writer Jancis Robinson has donated her personal papers to the UC Davis Library. ( photo)

Robinson to Speak at Feb. 16 Event Celebrating Gift

Robinson will discuss the evolution of the wine world over her 40-year career at a free event hosted by the library on Feb. 16. Alder Yarrow, founder and editor of the award-winning wine blog Vinography, will moderate the discussion at “An Evening with Jancis Robinson.” Reservations are required by Feb. 9.

British author Jancis Robinson, called “the most respected wine critic and journalist in the world” by Decanter magazine, has donated her archive from over four decades of wine writing to the library at the University of California, Davis.

Robinson, who will speak at UC Davis on Feb. 16, is the author of numerous books, including, most recently, The 24-Hour Wine Expert, a practical guide to the essentials of wine. She is also co-author of The World Atlas of Wine and Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours, and editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine.

She is founder of the award-winning and wine correspondent of the Financial Times. She was the first person outside the wine trade to qualify as a Master of Wine and currently advises the cellar of Queen Elizabeth II.

In the company of 'towering figures'

Jancis Robinson holds a glass of wine
Jancis Robinson ( photo)

“I feel extremely honored that all my papers, notebooks, tasting notes and professional photographs have found a home in a part of the world that has been so important to me and my life’s work in wine,” Robinson said. “It is a particular pleasure to be in the company of such towering figures in the world of wine as Hugh Johnson, Robert Mondavi and Maynard Amerine in the famous UC Davis Library.”

Among Robinson’s papers now at the library are:

  • Tasting notes dating back to 1976;
  • 275 notebooks recording Robinson’s travels around the world of wine;
  • Robinson’s published work since her first (fashion) article written in 1965;
  • Correspondence with luminaries including wine critic Robert Parker, British food writer Elizabeth David, author Julian Barnes, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; and
  • Photographs ranging from official events, to shots of filming on location, to informal photos of Robinson with friends and colleagues.

More details about the Robinson collection are available online.

For students of wine and writing

Wine tasting notes and other papers
The collection includes wine tasting notes from Château Latour in France. (Jessica Nusbaum/UC Davis photo)

“As the papers of one of the best-traveled and most observant chroniclers of the changing face of wine, this collection adds new perspective on how the world of wine is being written about and is an important complement to the papers of Hugh Johnson, which the UC Davis Library added to our collection a year ago,” said Axel Borg, wine subject specialist at the library.

“Winemaking is an art — but so, too, is writing about wine,” Borg added. “Having the work of world-renowned wine writers here at the university library also provides a valuable resource for students learning the art of writing.”

Robinson’s papers become part of what fellow British wine writer Johnson called "the greatest wine library in the world," joining the collections of other prominent wine writers; top wine researchers and scientists, including those, like Maynard Amerine and Harold Olmo, who helped establish UC Davis as a driving force in viticulture and enology; and wine industry leaders such as Robert Mondavi.

Collection available for public use by April

The Jancis Robinson Papers on Wine Writing and Criticism are currently being cataloged by the library and will become available for public use by April 2017. While she is still actively working as a wine writer and critic, the library’s invitation to preserve her papers and her legacy in the field came at a serendipitous moment, just as she was preparing to move house for the first time in more than 30 years.

Media Resources

Jessica Nusbaum, UC Davis Library, 530-752-4145,

Julia Ann Easley, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-752-8248,

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Food & Agriculture