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Wine Writers Collection – Development Policy

Collection Overview

Wine comes to us rich with historical and aesthetic significance, having been interpreted and recast over millennia through literature, art, science and commerce. These interpretations shape the shared and individual experiences of those who drink it. At the same time, the nature of the wine itself is determined by the cultures of industry and law, by the markets that affect its production, and by the critical responses of those who drink it, especially of wine writers. Wine is a social thing, and responds to its time. It remains a vibrant cultural product even when winemakers and critics emphasize its timeless natural qualities. As wine historian James Gabler writes, “Wine has involved the entire human experience, and its literature is almost as rich and varied as the varieties of grapes from which it is made. From an intellectual perspective . . . wine has nourished the thoughts and writings of famous men and women throughout history.”

Wine writers educate a general audience about wine, from ground to grape to grower to winemaker, and everything in between. Their writing is most commonly found in book form, in popular magazines such as Wine Spectator and Decanter, in newspaper columns, in newsletters, and on websites. Wine writing can take the form of features and profiles, historical accounts, industry news, reviews and some forms of criticism, though there are other ways that writers might present information about wine — especially online.

We seek to collect the archives of writers who have documented and influenced important developments in the history of wine, with an emphasis on the establishment and growth of the California wine industry and its impact on an international scale. Collection development decisions prioritize acquisitions that reflect and support the rich diversity of cultures, ideas, and research interests that exist in the UC Davis academic community. The writers may include, but are not limited to, historians, journalists, educators, professors, merchants and winemakers. While the library will collect scientific literature that has had a major impact on wine culture, the goal of the collection is to show the evolution of wine as a product deeply embedded in the social fabric of American life.

Goals of the collection

  • Document and preserve the history of wine writing and provide research materials for faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, researchers and the public.
  • Provide resources for winemakers and grape growers to use to better understand and improve their work.
  • Encourage and enable instructors to incorporate wine writing into relevant curricula across the subject areas listed above.
  • Highlight the role of wine writing within the wine industry through exhibits and digital collections.

Collecting strategy

The Wine Writers Collection serves to complement and illuminate topics and periods documented in current viticulture and enology holdings at UC Davis.

Academic college, department or program, subject area or collection areas

Viticulture and Enology, Environmental Humanities, Cultural Studies, Religious Studies, History, English Literature, University Writing Program, Creative Writing, Social Sciences, Marketing, Economics, Law, Philosophy


  • Pre-Prohibition and the Prohibition years (1619–1933)
  • Repeal and recovery (1933–1965)
  • The emergence of fine wine in California and the rise of Napa (1965–1980s)
  • The developing industries of wine appreciation, Big Flavor, and New California wine (1980s–2000s)
  • Wine from the turn of the millennium to present


  • Important trends in viticulture and winemaking
  • International markets
  • Literature from merchants and wine shops, including newsletters and unique tasting notes
  • Independently published perspectives (zines, blogs, social media, etc.)


Primarily but not exclusively English.

Chronological and geographical focus

Primarily 1965 to present. While there is no strict geographical limit, the collection centers on the wines of California and California’s role in the international wine industry.

Collection formats

In any format, print or digital: manuscripts, images (photographs, slides, negatives, digital files), correspondence, notebooks and research notes, monographs, newspaper and magazine clippings, speeches and lectures, websites, social media, datasets, serials, pamphlets, business records or company archives, moving image and audio recordings, menus, trade publications and publicity (manuals, advertisements, flyers, etc.), posters, brochures

Methods of acquisition

Materials are acquired as gifts-in-kind from individual donors, organizations, or companies, or as transfers from University of California units. Monographs, pamphlets, or ephemera may be purchased using the appropriate library account.

Collection management and evaluation

Potential acquisitions are reviewed by the Head of Archives and Special Collections, the Warren Winiarski Wine Writers Collection Fellow, and, when appropriate, faculty in the academic departments listed above.

Related collections

Viticulture and EnologyA.W. Noling Hurty-Peck Collection of Beverage LiteratureFood Processing and ManufactureNorthern California Food MovementCalifornia History