Kit Stevens, one of the wine world’s most popular and knowledgeable professionals, has died aged 63 after a fall at his home.
He was found by a workman at the bottom of the stairs of his Sussex home last Tuesday 3 August. It is understood he slipped and broke his neck in the fall.
Stevens was one of the first 33 people to get his MW, in 1972, the year he left Britain to work in France as export manager for eight companies covering most of the world.
During a career that spanned over four decades – he started as a cellarman at Hedges and Butler in London in 1960 – Stevens built up his own company, Vinifera, lived in France, Australia and New Zealand, and was a prolific writer, lecturer and broadcaster.
Tributes – many irreverent but all moving – have come from all over the world.
In an obituary, Robin Walters, managing director of importers John E Fells said, ‘Kit was a highly talented, generous and engaging man, a great romantic and romancer, extremely knowledgeable about all things vinous and much more besides.’
Jane Hunt MW wrote on the Circle of Wine Writers forum, ‘Kit was always, for me at least, a most attractive man. He was aways funny, attentive, charming, courtly and full of untranslatable opinion – and despite his failings, his knowledge about the subject of wine was extraordinary.’
On the same forum Tom Stevenson – who two weeks ago commissioned Stevens to write an article on the Loire – said, ‘I loved the old boy. He always had a mischievous twinkle in his eye, and had a wicked sense of humour. While most of his generation couldn’t think beyond claret and port, he was one of the earliest champions of wines from Australia and, particularly, New Zealand.’
Stevens married twice, both marriages ending in divorce. In 1975 he married Stella Downer, daughter of the then Australian High Commissioner in London. They had one son, Bertie. He subsequently married Rosie Cormack.
Written by Adam Lechmere