Hugh Johnson began acquiring his wine knowledge as a member of the Wine and Food Society at Cambridge University. When he came down from King's College in 1961 he became feature writer for Vogue and House & Garden, writing, among other things, wine columns for both magazines. In 1963 he became general secretary of the Wine and Food Society and succeeded the legendary gastronome André Simon as editor of Wine and Food. At the same time he became wine correspondent of The Sunday Times and started work on his first book Wine (1966), through which he established himself at the age of 27 as one of the subject's foremost writers. His rare talent for making the most complex subjects readable has led to a remarkable sequence of books.
After a year as travel editor of The Sunday Times he became editor of Queen, and in 1969 James Mitchell of the newly founded publishing house Mitchell Beazley asked him to write The World Atlas of Wine. First published in 1971, this book has been translated into 14 languages and sold over four million copies. The sixth edition, fully updated and co-written with Jancis Robinson, was published in October 2007, and a concise edition is to be published this September.
Hugh Johnson's vast knowledge of wine is condensed into his Pocket Wine Book, an annually updated guide to everything worth drinking, which, year by year, is the world's best-selling wine book. This year the 33rd edition of the book is published. In 2005 he penned his memoirs, entitled Wine - A Life Uncorked, which became another best-seller.
In 2007 Hugh Johnson received an OBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours list. His OBE was awarded for services to winemaking and horticulture. In April 2004 Hugh was honoured with the title of Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite, one of the highest tributes bestowed by the French Government. The medal was presented to Hugh for his significant contribution to the appreciation and understanding of France and its wines.