Who Am I?
A Master of Wine since 1992 and member of the Circle of Wine Writers. I abandoned life behind the microscope after a degree in Botany and a PhD in plant sciences. I joined Augustus Barnett as trainee wine buyer in 1988 and never looked back.
The Start to my Career in Wine
Seven years as Senior Wine Buyer for Augustus Barnett and the whole Bass Group gave me the chance to travel to vineyards all over the world. I have bought wine from most countries that grow grapes, in parcels ranging from a few cases to over a hundred thousand cases, for wine shops, pubs and hotels.
The Freelance Life
In 1995 I left corporate life behind to start my own business as an independent consultant and freelance wine writer an diva now been trading successfully for 20 years. Today I specialise in Central and Eastern Europe, with a particularly strong interest in countries like Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Moldova, Armenia, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and many others that have emerged from the yoke of communism. I also have an interest in Cyprus and Turkey, both countries that have reinvented themselves in recent years from from a different background. Read my posts and articles for more detail.
I contribute to several major reference books including Oxford Companion to Wine, Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Guide, World Atlas of Wine, The Wine Opus and Tom Stevenson’s brilliant but short-lived Wine Report. I also write on freelance basis for websites and magazines including Decanter and decanter.com, Harpers, Meininger’s Wine Business International, Vino (Slovenia), Divino.bg and various others. I judge at number of wien competitions and am panel Chair at the world’s biggest Decanter World Wine awards which now attracts over 15000 entries. My patch is Romania, Slovenia, Hungary and Czech Republic. I’m also currently president of the Vinistra Wine awards in Croatia. I have also judged in Hungary, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Turkey. I regularly speak in public giving seminars, masterclasses and workshops to both trade and consumer audiences. A favourite topic is of course the new faces of the wines from across Central and Eastern Europe – so much to tell and always changing.
I also provide consultancy on wine quality; brand development; benchmarking against competitive products; range selection; technical issues; copy writing for websites, back labels, shelf talkers and brochures. Clients range from major international PLCs to small boutique wineries.
Past roles include being appointed board director of the UK Wine Standards Board for 4 years until 2003, appointed by the Minster for Agriculture. This was a Non-Departmental Public Body responsible for supervision and enforcement of EU wine law in the UK, a function now held within the Food Standards Agency