I might just have the best job possible. I get to work with amazing colleagues and many of the most talented wine writers in the world. I go to very interesting wine tastings, where I get to meet fascinating people. Extremely lucky, I’m sure you’ll agree.
I joined the Académie du Vin Library in June 2020, by which stage the company had already published five books. The Académie was the brainchild of Steven Spurrier and Hugh Johnson, who wanted to celebrate the great wine writing that was now out of print. They asked Simon McMurtrie (both a wine and a publishing expert) to bring it to life and with the support of some great wine and book professionals, they started to build a list of wine classics. A few of these have been published before – Michael Broadbent’s definitive Wine Tasting which was our first title, and Hugh’s genre-defining The Story of Wine – while many are brand new books: Fiona Morrison MW’s 10 Great Wine Families and Ben Howkins’ Sherry for instance.
Making the publishing decisions is never easy; there are many talented wine writers with great ideas for books and we want to build a balanced list. What is crucial for Susan Keevil, our Editorial Director, is the quality of the writing. As Hugh says, it’s not wine writing as such, it’s writing, and Jay McInerney says exactly the same about Andrew Jefford’s work. Our mission is to tell stories, about the wines but particularly about the people who make them and the places they are made. We want to enhance your enjoyment of the wines you drink by telling you more about them with well-chosen words. We want to produce beautiful books that you will enjoy holding and keeping as well as reading. We’re lucky to have an Art Director as elegant with his designs as Tim Foster.
Susan’s critically acclaimed anthology series, including On Bordeaux, On California, On Champagne, with On Burgundy to follow this October, also celebrates great writing. Some articles have been published before, and sometimes a while ago – who wouldn’t want to hear what Henry Vizetelly wrote about Champagne in 1882? – while others are newly commissioned to help her tell the stories of these fabulous wine regions in a multi-faceted way that no one else is doing.
We will never publish hundreds of books. We think very carefully about the people and regions we should cover first. I’m excited about our forward publishing list but I’m also really pleased that we’re now supporting other great wine writers by offering their books alongside our own list. Amanda Barnes’ award-winning South America Wine Guide was the first to join the list, with Port Vintages (JDA Wiseman), Jura Wine and Wines of the French Alps by Wink Lorch now available, and with more to come this year.
Our 20th title – From Bordeaux to the Stars – is one I hope you will all want to buy, read and give to wine-loving friends. Jean-Michel Cazes is one of a handful of real-life legends in Bordeaux, an innovator who has had a significant impact on the modernizing of wine-making there over the last 60 years. He is also an extremely humble man, who tells the story of his life in wine very lightly. We’re very lucky to have his words translated into English by Jane Anson, the preeminent writer on the region today.
Read more about the birth of Académie du Vin Library and our newest titles in Felicity Carter’s interview with our Managing Director, Hermione Ireland, for Areni Global.