Acclaimed Wine Writer, Jancis Robinson, Joins Dr. Greg Jones for Wine Lecture Series

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Lindsey Burns

Jancis Robinson, MW joined Gregory Jones for the Linfield Wine Lecture Series via Zoom Wednesday morning.

Lindsey Burns, Staff Writer

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On Thursday January 28, Jancis Robinson joined Linfield professor Gregory Jones for a conversation about recent and upcoming changes in the wine industry.

Robinson is considered one of the world’s foremost wine writers. Besides being a regular writer for the Financial Times and her own wine news website, Robinson is the recipient of almost 100 awards for her work in the wine industry, in writing, and in television. She has authored and co-authored some of the most well-read wine books, and even serves as an adviser to Queen Elizabeth II’s cellar.

Although Oregon wines are few and far between on the other side of the Atlantic, Robinson says she’s always admired them. She described Oregon wines as “a jolly good alternative” to the similar and more expensive French Burgundys. 

“Everyone (in Oregon) seems to get along with everybody else and wants to move 

in the same direction” she added.

Robinson and Jones first met at a 2016 wine symposium in Brighton, England.  As Jones pointed out, a lot has changed since then. 

Thanks to Brexit, the average cost of wine in the U.K. is expected to go up £1.50 per bottle, but, according to Robinson, the main obstacle is “a heck of a lot more bureaucracy,” and “many, many more forms.”

Over the course of Robinson’s career, English wine making has transformed from a hobby to a business. Thanks to warmer summers, harvests have vastly improved. 

“If you’d asked me in 2016, I’d have said ‘yeah, we’re pretty good at making sparkling wine’” Robinson said. But rising summer temperatures have allowed the English to make successful still wines as well.

Just in the last year, the global industry has seen its own changes. Perhaps most notably a boom in direct-to-consumer sales. With restaurants and bars closed, many wineries have started their own wine subscription box or, at the least, some way to order wine through their website. 

Even before the pandemic, Robinson said, wine producers were looking for ways to skip over the middle-man and sell directly to the consumer. COVID has allowed them to do this without much investment.

Another change is, of course, the switch to online meetings, online tastings, and online lectures. Both Robinson and Jones saw this as a double-edged sword. 

Robinson described “it’s great if it helps people realize how ridiculous it is to fly twice across the Atlantic for a meeting,” and as Jones said, the near global switch to Zoom is what allowed Robinson to partake in the Linfield wine lecture series.

On the other hand, Robinson shared that she finds this sort of online interaction more tiresome than a “real,” in-person meeting. “It’s full on and we’re not getting every little nuance of behavior. We’re sort of on stage,” she said.

Although Robinson smiled and joked throughout the lecture, she remarked that she misses being able to escape an in-person meeting to make herself a cup of tea. 

On her website, she describes herself as a “swot,” or someone who studies too much, a non-bimbo broadcaster, prolific author, and simply a warm and cuddly person with an unusual name.