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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
21 Feb 2017

Last week the University of California at Davis announced that Warren Winiarski (right), founder and former proprietor of Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, has donated $135,000 to its library, more than $100,000 of which will be used to support their collection of my papers, those of my friend and fellow wine writer Hugh Johnson, and the library's wine writer collections overall. In a statement, UCD optimistically announced that, 'It is anticipated that the library will build on the collections donated by Robinson and Johnson, which it acquired independently, by adding the papers of other prominent wine writers, including Americans, in the future. The Jancis Robinson Papers Fund supports the library's work to preserve, curate and provide access to Robinson's four decades of wine writing.' 

Last Thursday night at Davis a good 250 of us celebrated the arrival of my papers - notebooks, tasting sheets, cuttings books, photographs and correspondence. It was something of a JancisRobinson.com event for I was quizzed for a good hour by our very own US columnist Alder Yarrow on such topics du jour as which sort of milk I prefer, and reported on in A conversation with Jancis Robinson and Alder Yarrow by our US specialist Elaine Chukan Brown. (For an hour-long video of the encounter, see Alder grills Jancis.)

The audience of students and faculty members was complemented by such high-profile vintners as Deborah and Bill Harlan (seen with his white goatee beard on the left of Nick's picture below), Michaela and Greg Rodeno, Bart and Daphne Araujo, Andy and Betty Beckstoffer, Jill and Steve Matthiasson, Bob and Verna Steinhauer and Elizabeth Vianna, as well as such luminaries as Darrell Corti, Harold McGee, Thomas Pinney and Charles Sullivan.

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Warren Winiarski, whose early 1973 Cabernet 'won' the seminal Judgment of Paris California v France tasting in 1976, observed, 'the legacy of California winemaking and its global ascent in the 20th century must be both cared for and made accessible to future students and scholars of oenology and the wine industry. I think it's very important that a California institution house these significant papers that document our wine history. I'm proud to help ensure works by the prominent wine writers of our time are documented and catalogued and these individuals are recognised for their contributions to the California wine industry.'

Warren Winiarski's gifts to the library have supported not only wine writers but also the Robert G Mondavi Papers, which document the life and work of California winemaker and innovator Robert Mondavi, and the Maynard A Amerine Wine Book Endowment, a fund used to purchase rare and unusual items for the library's world-renowned viticulture and oenology collections. Amerine, for whom the fund is named, was a former professor of viticulture and enology at UC Davis who was legendary for his role in rebuilding the post-Prohibition wine industry in California.

The staff at Davis are currently combing through my 275 notebooks and piles of paperwork and expect to be able to offer my papers for inspection by the really nosy towards the end of April. For the moment, I'm not sure how much will be digitised and therefore available to those unable to visit the Shields Library close to the proudly sustainable viticulture and enology department of UCD just outside the California state capital Sacramento.