Rebecca Gibb MW is an award-winning wine journalist, author and entrepreneur. In 2015, Rebecca completed her Master of Wine, she later co-founded The Drinks Project consultancy firm, launched a wine and spirit puzzles business (Bamboozled Games), and wrote a book, The Wines of New Zealand.
In September this year, Rebecca joined the Vinous team as an Editor and is responsible for covering the wines of New Zealand and the Loire Valley. Nicola Graham of Liv-ex recently caught up with Rebecca to learn a bit more about her background and recent career move.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you get into the wine industry?
I fell in love with wine at an Australian ski resort. I was meant to be spending the university summer in London as an intern with a political lobbyist but fell through at the eleventh hour. My sister, who was then a ski instructor, suggested I join her in the Victorian Alps. I turned up with my snowboard, got myself a job in a café and ended up meeting the daughter of a grape growing family, the Chalmers, who introduced me to the world of wine. I was hooked.
The wine trade has historically been quite a male dominated industry. What’s your experience of this, and has it changed over the years?
There are a huge number of successful women in the wine industry – there were 143 female MWs at the last count; there was just one 50 years ago. Things are changing slowly but surely and ultimately it is women who give birth and continue to provide the majority of childcare. I know so many women in the trade of a similar age to me who are trying to juggle a successful career while also being home in time to pick up their child from school. Society needs to better support these women and wine businesses need to be more flexible to enable those talented individuals to flourish not flounder.
Having worked for a number of influential wine publications, what’s your view of wine journalism today?
The world needs great journalists whatever their specialist subject. The place where that content is published may have changed but we still need quality stories and insightful commentary.
In 2015, you successfully completed the Masters of Wine study program. What made you want to do this?
I love studying and having completed the WSET diploma a few years earlier, I was itching to get back to the books and deepen my wine knowledge. This seemed like the ultimate wine challenge and so it proved.
You recently wrote your own book, The Wines of New Zealand. Where did the inspiration come from, and how did you find both writing and editing?
I’d just returned from living in New Zealand when I received a call from fellow MW Sarah Jane Evans asking if I was interested in writing the book. I thought I knew the industry well but I learned so much during the research phase that my only regret was that I hadn’t written it sooner.
How has New Zealand wine changed in recent years and what does the future hold for the country’s wine industry?
New Zealand has deservedly earned its place on the world wine map in the past two decades. There are now many fine wines, but there are also a lot of dilute entry-level wines, which are potentially damaging to the country’s seemingly blemish-free reputation. This is also a period of transition as first-generation winery owners hand over to their children or look for another owner. I believe that there will be a lot of change in the coming decade.
Also, a huge congratulations on joining the Vinous editorial team! Can you tell us a bit more about your decision to join the team and what your new role will involve?
I met Antonio Galloni at Château Figeac a few years ago and we’ve kept in touch. I received a call this earlier this year with a view to upping their coverage of New Zealand and I’ll also be taking on two reports a year from the Loire Valley, where I’ve been spending an increasing amount of time since moving back to the UK from New Zealand in 2016.
Can you tell us a bit more about your jigsaw company, Bamboozled Games?
Absolutely. Bamboozled is a jigsaw puzzle business dedicated to wines and spirits. We have three 500-piece beautifully illustrated puzzles that offer an entertaining and relaxing way to learn about your favourite wine or whisky region. They make the perfect gift for the wine or spirit lover in your life and they were hugely popular during lockdown.
From your perspective, what is your view on the role of Liv-ex?
In my role as a journalist as well as a wine lover, I’ve always called upon Liv-ex data as a source of reliable and impartial pricing information on estates, regions and vintages.
Can you tell us something we might not know about you?
I am a former GB junior international athlete. I competed in the 100-metre hurdles and was the under-19 English champion in 1999.
You’ve completed your Masters of Wine, launched both a consultancy firm and a puzzle business, written your own book and just taken on a new role with Vinous. Tell us, what’s the secret to your success and how do you do it all?
Having a to-do list, setting lofty goals and working hard. It also helps that my family is really supportive, allowing me to travel frequently and pursue a career despite having a young son.