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Jancis Robinson Papers on Wine Writing

“The most respected wine critic and journalist in the world” donates her personal papers

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 UC Davis Library.

Robinson is the author of numerous books including 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, and editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine.

Founder of the award-winning, Robinson is also wine correspondent of the Financial Times, a TV presenter and wine judge. She advised the cellar of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from 2004 until 2022, and continues to be a member of the Royal Household Wine Committee.

In 1984, Robinson became the first person outside the wine trade to qualify as a Master of Wine, one of the most prestigious credentials in the wine world. In its 60-year history, fewer than 400 people have passed the rigorous examination to become Masters of Wine.

Robinson broke into the wine world at a time when the field was still dominated by men and has been called one of the 10 most powerful women in wine. She has been presented with high honors in more than half a dozen countries, including the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and France’s Officier du Mérite Agricole.

The library hosted an event celebrating Robinson’s gift of her papers on February 16, 2017. The event featured a conversation with Robinson about her perspective on the evolution of the wine world over her 40-year career, moderated by wine blogger Alder Yarrow.

An Evening with Jancis Robinson, Feb. 16, 2017

Inside the collection

The Jancis Robinson Papers on Wine Writing and Criticism, now housed at the UC Davis Library, include the following:

  • Tasting notes dating back to 1976, some of which are accompanied by materials from the wineries she visited
  • 275 notebooks recording Robinson’s travels around the world of wine since 1976
  • Press clips from Robinson’s career as a wine writer and journalist
  • Videotapes of television programs featuring her
  • Copies of her books in several languages
  • Correspondence with luminaries such as fellow wine writer Hugh Johnson, wine critic Robert Parker, British food writer Elizabeth David, author Julian Barnes, and former Prime Minister Tony Blair
  • Photographs ranging from official events, to shots of filming on location, to informal photos of Robinson with friends and colleagues

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.

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.”

— Jancis Robinson


Learn more about private support of the UC Davis Library.


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