Kathleen grew up on a farm in California, and one of their crops was grapes, so she has driven a tractor, picked grapes, tied vines, and gone to the winery.
At Oxford, she was a member of the SCR wine committee, which meant that she got to
go to a lot of tastings. With her husband she began to buy en primeur in the 1980s, so they now have a reasonably-sized, unbalanced cellar – lots from France, Germany and California, but very little from any part of the Southern Hemisphere.
From 1998-2001 she sat three years of wine exams at the Wine and Spirits Education Trust in London, and now holds their Diploma in Wine and Spirits. Since then she has been a free-lance wine writer (her main occupation is as the Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at UCL), first writing a wine column for ‘Prospect’ magazine for a couple of years and for the past several years writing commissioned articles for The World of Fine Wine’ and, latterly, for the ‘Wayward Tendrils Quarterly’, a journal for wine book collectors. For a number of years she has been a judge for the International Wine and Spirits Competition. She also gives a significant number of wine tastings in London, and wine courses for students.
She is the co-author (with Michael Bywater) of Is this bottle corked? – a humorous and anecdotal essay on the world of wine and will be commenting on the more academic side of wine appreciation