To celebrate the first year of The Circular online, we’ve compiled highlights from our year of Meet the Member interviews. Take a browse below and click on the links to see the full interviews with some of our members over the last year.

What is your earliest memory of wine?

“I think it is nanny’s disapproval. When I was very young, we lived in a small house and my father used to buy wine and put it in the cupboard under the stairs. I remember a couple of cases coming in, and nanny – who was rather puritanical, looking on in despair and disapproval as it was put under the stairs.

Then, when I was three of four, we moved into a large house with ample cellarage and wine came in by the load and my father used to take it all down the cellar and put it away carefully and catalogue it. I still have his cellar book.”

Julian Jeffs, UK


“Dare I say I was five years old [laughs]. My parents always used to drink wine at lunch almost every day and on a Sunday we were allowed to have a tiny little glass of Muscadelle, which is obviously very sweet in South Africa, so that was my first wine memory and that’s been with me forever. I can never lose my love for Muscadelle.”

Winnie Bowman, South Africa


“My very first memory, which should’ve put me off for life, was that my parents drank Mateus rosé, and I actually did find a photograph of a Mateus rosé bottle on one of those very large televisions that they had in those days. They had a lampshade on it and had re-used it and recycled it.

The first time I really started tasting wine was probably at university. I was the treasurer of a very prestigious bar at Durham University College but the bar was best known for its collection of whiskies. For my year abroad, I lived in the Southern Rhône, in Avignon, and I started to get a bit more interested in wine then.”

Tim Atkin, UK


“I was a teenager. In the Jewish tradition, you drink wine during Passover and you have to drink four glasses. And you know there is wine in a younger Jewish tradition – when Jewish boys are eight days old they are given a little wine so as to not feel the pain of circumcision. Wine is in the Jewish tradition, maybe sweet wine or also grape juice.”

Yair Koren Kornblum, Isreal


“It was when I was 18 and I moved to New York City. I came with a suitcase and a backpack and stayed at the YMCA. I met young people like me and eventually ended up living in the East Village. It was still relatively dangerous at the time but there were a lot of artists there because it was cheap.

I met tonnes of Europeans who lived there and we would get together in our cheap hole-in-the-wall apartments, sit on the floor, and we would buy some cheap European wine, some meat, cheeses, bread and have a picnic on our floor. And that was my family! I learned about wine, where they came from, and for me that was the greatest thing in the world!”

Cathrine Todd, USA


“I started with the slightly sweet German wines like Liebfraumilch. A lot of people start out like that and I did too. It then became a little more serious, when I was around 25 or 26 and I started a wine club with a few friends. Then I joined another wine club and took some courses and discovered that it was quite fun. Then I met Per and he was so passionate about wine…”

Britt Karlsson, Sweden


Why, or how, did you start working in wine?

“When I was 11, I read an article in a newspaper about a priest who made wine at home and I thought it sounded fun, so I started to make wine when I was 11. My grandfather had a demijohn and my mother took me to a supermarket sale after Christmas and we bought figs and I made wine from figs. I made wine from figs, gooseberries, apples but never from grapes.”

Per Karlsson, Sweden


“It was to justify my alcoholism [laughs]. No! I was trained as a biologist and during my PhD thesis, I used DNA profiling to classify the families and the genera of plants. I was a wine lover and getting more and more into wine collecting and tasting, and I thought to myself that we could use the same technique to classify or identify grape varieties.”

Dr José Vouillamoz, Switzerland


“By spending too much time hanging around in Oddbins on Saturdays, when I lived in Bristol. I’d always enjoyed wine but I knew very little about it. I loved the feeling of Oddbins, the people and the way they were so enthusiastic. I would pick their brains and taste anything that was open for tasting.

Then, I started going to another wine shop in Bristol – Avery’s – and they had a tasting group which I joined. I found that the more I knew, then the more pleasure I got from the wine.”

Julia Harding, UK


“When I was in Hong Kong from 1994 to 1997, it was not the fine wine hub it is today. We were drinking Paul Masson jug wine, and definitely not Petrus. I remember really starting to love some Italian wines and that was probably what switched me on to seeking out wines and remembering the names.

I didn’t start studying it until I got back to London and then I did the WSET courses, but even then, I was still writing about other things. I was managing editor of online websites and wasn’t writing about wine in particular. I did one or two political stories about wine from when I’d been in South Africa.

It wasn’t a full-time job until I moved to Bordeaux in 2003 and then, when in Rome [laughs], I just dived right in.”

Jane Anson, France


“I’ve been busy with this topic for 30 years and what I’ve always liked is the people – the people I’ve met who deal with wine and the people who love wine. It’s a subject that keeps taking you from place to place. In the end, it’s a big family and we all love the same thing. We all get drunk after a certain moment and tell funny stories. It’s a beautiful world.”

Chandra Kurt, Switzerland 


“Wine was what I wanted to do when I got around to trying to find a job. My next choice would have been art, so I was within maybe two days of joining Christie’s and that would have been another way of life. As it was, I got an interview at Christopher’s in Jones Street, the oldest wine merchant in London, and they took me on. It was always what I wanted to do it and it has been a way of life.”

Steven Spurrier, UK



Would you like to suggest one of our fellow members to be interviewed? Suggestions (and proposed questions!) welcome