Long-standing wine writer and Decanter columnist Hugh Johnson OBE is set to formally donate his research notes and manuscripts for books such as World Atlas of Wine to UC Davis at a ceremony in California this week.


Hugh Johnson, Decanter Man of the Year in 1995 and an Officer in the French Order Nationale de Merité, has chosen to donate his wine papers to UC Davis’ Peter J Shields Library.

The materials include annotated manuscripts and research notes for his books, including The Story of Wine and the World Atlas of Wine, now co-authored with Jancis Robinson MW and in its seventh edition.

There will also be examples of his journalism, television programmes, lecture notes and transcripts, and various other projects accumulated over his unparalleled 50-year career in wine.

A ceremony to mark the donation will be held at UC Davis on Tuesday 23 February, with 160 students and wine professionals in attendance.

Axel Borg, distinguished wine and food science biographer at UC Davis, told Decanter.com, ‘Hugh Johnson created the concept of world wine. He proved the popularity of wine atlases, and proved that you can make a living out of writing about wine.

‘Besides the historical benefits of this collection, we have an undergraduates’ writing programme at Davis, and for them to be able to study his writing process and revisions will be a great honour.’

The emeritus professor of English, Thomas Pinney, author of A History of Wine in America, will hold a filmed Q&A session with Johnson speaking about his career and the specifics of the work included in this donation.

The Peter Shields library holds over 30,000 wine books, with a special collections library of rare manuscripts, maps and imprints from 1450 to 1900. The library already contains the papers and books of legendary American wine writers Leon D Adams and Roy Brady.

‘It’s simply the greatest wine library in the world,’ said Johnson

Johnson’s horticultural papers have been donated to the Garden Museum in London.

Read more about the contents of the US Davis wine library on 25 February, in Jane Anson’s weekly column.