Johnson retires from Pocket Wine Book series after four decades

Johnson retires from Pocket Wine Book series after four decades

Hugh Johnson is retiring from his role on the Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book series after more than four decades, with Margaret Rand taking over the reins.

The change will take effect from the 2022 edition, but publisher Mitchell Beazley said the name of the book will not change “and nor will its format, its energy and its philosophy”. Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2022 will publish in hardback on 2nd September 2021, with a simultaneous e-book issued alongside.

Now in its 45th year of publication, the series has sold 12 million copies worldwide, according to the publisher. The 2022 edition will be fully revised, updated and expanded. It will include a colour supplement called “The Ten Best Things About Wine Right Now”, as well as its “customary blend of facts, wit, opinions, inside information and pointers to the future”. There will be a new focus on the book’s contributors—all leading authorities on their regions—and the exploration of new growers and new trends across the world will continue.

Johnson published his first book on wine at the age of 27 and in the past four decades he has written titles that have become landmarks on the subject, including his classic The World Atlas of Wine, now co-authored with Jancis Robinson, Wine Companion and Hugh Johnson on Wine, all released by Michell Beazley. His memoir, A Life Uncorked (W&N) was a bestseller, as was his acclaimed history The Story of Wine from Noah to Now (Academie du Vin Library). In April, the third volume in a series of anthologies of Hugh Johnson’s Trad’s Diary will be published, titled Sitting in the Shade (Mitchell Beazley).

Johnson said: “I couldn’t have kept this little book going every year for 44 years without a little help from my friends, or in the past 15 years or so, without a lot of help from one very good friend. Gradually it has become more Margaret Rand’s book than mine, and I’m delighted, thrilled (and relieved) that she has now taken it on as her own responsibility.”

Rand has been general editor of Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book for 15 years, and with Johnson's retirement from the book, she has taken over the hot seat. Her curiosity about wine started several decades ago and led her to a career of writing about wine and editing wine magazines, with the occasional foray into whisky. 

She said: “This year, it’s hail and farewell—or, as Hugh would undoubtedly say, ave atque vale. Hugh is handing over his baby to me after 44 editions—a generous act, and a trusting one. I shall try not to drop it.”