It’s been a while since I’ve shared information about other wine writers. There certainly has been a cadre of new people, I just haven’t been as aggressive as I was when I first started my blog, spending weekends and then scheduling for the week, as I did, starting in 2005. It was pre small and local grandkids is my only (and great) excuse. Now, the kids are more self-sufficient, and I find myself gardening for their benefit, so I’m still a bit jammed. That said, there are a few new writers that I really want to get onto my resource page for wine writers. Kathleen Willcox is where I want to begin; because she’s a superstar that I’ve had a lot of contact with lately, and she’s on my mind as someone that is so delightful, articulate, and thorough as a writer.
Examples of her background as an author and journalist.
- Book published: Hudson Valley Wines: A History of Taste & Terroir
- Wine Enthusiast
- Vine Pair
- Slow Wine Guide
Not only is Kathleen Willcox a name to remember, but she’s also definitely someone worth getting to read and know.
I asked her if she would work with me on this, sending her questions. As you read her profile, may you be tempted to also get to know her better. You’ll see why I know she’s simply delightful.
[QUESTION] Tell me something about you that no one in the wine world knows.
[KATHLEEN] Personally – I am obsessed with my book club. Not for the books (I often opt to read different books than the ones we pick), but for the community. I have 7-year-old twins, and the rest of the club is also comprised of working moms, some of whom I know better than others. We have our first (socially distant) meeting since the pandemic started this week, but I talk to them daily on our chat group where we share war stories, advice, recipes, tears and laughter. As I get older, friendship has become more, not less, important to me.
Professionally – I don’t have any formal wine training, and I constantly grapple with the pros and cons of pursuing it. I read about wine and taste wine regularly, and I am constantly participating in informal seminars, but I wonder if it’s systematic enough. On the other hand, I don’t want to have a particular paradigm drilled into me.
[Q] What inspired you to write about wine?
[K] Wine is liquid art. It’s a cultural, historical, aesthetic and sensory relic. Opening a bottle can transport you across time and space; delve into the details, and you’ll discover the maker’s—or sometimes an entire region or community’s— philosophy on life, their obsessions, their desires, their dreams. The real mystery is, why don’t more people want to write about wine?
[Q] What is your primary interest with wine?
[K] I love using wine to tell bigger stories about what is happening in agriculture, the environment, the economy, the Zeitgeist.
[Q] You conduct a lot of interviews; you must love meeting people. (Discuss)
[K] Yes and no. I’m an extroverted introvert. I love learning about people, places and ideas, and I love hearing how someone’s idealized vision gets translated down into practicalities, but after a long day and night on the road, or multiple phone and zoom interviews, I find that I need quiet time. I can’t be creative and thoughtful unless I have time to think about and process everything I learned, and that ideally happens solo, or on quiet walks with my family in the Great Outdoors. I’m thankful to have a family that I can be alone-together with, if that makes sense.
[Q] You’re a major influencer on Instagram. What has that journey been like?
[K] It has been fascinating. So many fellow writers who I have become friends with gave me advice on sharing pictures, and I’ve gotten to know so many people on Instagram, and then had the pleasure of meeting them in person. There is definitely a side to the IG Wine world that is competitive and perhaps not as kind or even civil as I’d like, but the vast majority of fellow writers and influencers are truly wonderful, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know them. The pandemic has allowed me more time with my family, and I’ve discovered that my daughter Emily has an excellent eye. She often has great ideas for settings and props, and she just makes the whole process of photographing more fun. Then when it’s time to taste, my son Miles has a great nose. He doesn’t sip, but he is great at drawing my attention to aromas. Sometimes I get tired of posting, and when it begins to feel like a job, I give it a rest.
[Q] What wine region would you like to return to, and why?
[K] Tuscany. There is so much natural beauty there, and I love the lifestyle, the sense of community, the deep roots in the land. And the food!
[Q] As an independent writer, without the safety net of a salary, what’s your biggest challenge?
[K] Not knowing how much income I have; it’s hard to plan ahead when you don’t know how much I’ll be making this year. Family vacations, camps, enrichment opportunities for the kids are often up in the air.
[Q] Besides wine, what is another passion?
[K] Hiking! I had no idea how much I loved the Great Outdoors until the pandemic gave me the opportunity walk around a lot outside or … just sit at home.
[Q] What does a typical look like for you?
[K] I get up around 6:15 and get my day planned out. Then by 6:45 I’m usually outside walking or running or downstairs on the treadmill. I try to walk or run every day. Then I make my kids breakfast, discuss the day ahead with them, get them organized and go to my home office to work. My kids are independent and as long as they have projects and activities, they run on autopilot, together. Of course, they pop in, and throughout the day we take mini-breaks to read books together, play a game or take a walk.
[Q] What are your greatest strengths?
[K] I work really, really hard at work, family, friendship, and fun. And I enjoy it.
Thank you to Wine Industry Insight for listing this blog for the day.