Celebrating Elaine

Elaine and Jancis in DC

We will miss our US executive editor greatly.

As part of a recent restructuring of all their titles by our parent company Recurrent Ventures, tomorrow is the last day that we will have the pleasure of having Elaine Chukan Brown as a full-time member of the JancisRobinson.com team.

This gifted, highly respected figure in the world of wine will be much missed. In 2015 I went over to California to find a specialist writer for our coverage of American wines. When I met Elaine it was immediately clear that she was the ideal candidate, living in Sonoma but with an intimate knowledge of the wine scene in many other US states too. Here’s how she introduced herself.

Since then she has contributed many ground-breaking articles, mainly on the American wine scene, including this four-part history of Chardonnay in California (which involved global research); a rare, complete vertical tasting of the magisterial Harlan Estate; a report on how dodging smoke taint in 2020 resulted in a step change for this emblematic Napa Valley winery; a scoop on the wines of the new family venture of François Millet, ex de Vogüé; a rare inside look at Gallo via their relationship with maverick Randall Grahm; and the first media tasting of an entirely new way of making California wine, Hardy Wallace’s multi-regional, multi-varietal blends. She also wrote about wine styles, states and regions not often covered by other wine writers.

The article of which Elaine herself is most proud is her seminal guide to understanding the importance of rethinking all aspects of employment for the sake of inclusion and equity. Elaine is widely recognised for having long championed Black, Indigenous and other people of colour as well as campaigning for a fair deal for women in the wine and other related industries.

It has been a pleasure to work with Elaine, and not just on so many aspects of JR.com. Elaine and I have enjoyed, for example, presenting a joint seminar in Napa on exporting California wine and hosting a tasting of Oregon wines at the Weekend FT Festival in Washington DC last May (see above). She also interviewed me in her lockdown series of excellent webinars for Wines of California, when we were celebrating the 20th anniversary of JancisRobinson.com.

True to form, she has been hard at work finishing a dazzling array of articles which we will be publishing during the rest of the year, and she has presented a couple of the podcasts we will be launching soon. So I’m glad to say that for the moment it’s au revoir and not adieu, Elaine. Everyone here at JancisRobinson.com wishes her continued success in the future, and I know Elaine and I hope to continue to collaborate in some form.

While it is impossible to replace Elaine, we remain committed to covering the US wine scene, gathering intel to share with you from both our long-standing California columnist Alder Yarrow and from bright-spark, Oregon-based Samantha Cole-Johnson.

And this week, in a long-planned move entirely unrelated to Elaine’s departure (it is hugely important to stress this), we have been joined by Tara Q Thomas of New York to fulfil the brand-new role of managing editor. For 25 years she was the mainstay of the American publication Wine & Spirits and was unable to join us until now because she has been so busy assisting our Julia Harding MW on the next, fifth edition of The Oxford Companion to Wine. Her duties will be to keep us in order and I am very much looking forward to handing over many of my previous tasks to her.

We all look forward to continuing to bring you our particular brand of fine wine writing.