Writing about wine started off as a modest, occasional hobby after Tim won Wine magazine’s inaugural “New Wine Writer” competition way back in the mid 1990s. But the hobby has grown into something much more time-consuming and wide-ranging since then (as to other prizes, he has twice won the Franschhoek Literary Festival’s Wine Writer of the Year award, the only person to have done so). Since then Tim has written for a number of magazines and in other places, though he is probably most associated with Grape – which operated as a Quixotic little two-colour, non-advertising magazine for four or five years, then transformed itself into a communal website before taking its current form.
Tim is one of the few South African writers with an international name and reputation, having, for example, reported on South African wine (with Cathy van Zyl) in the now sadly defunct International Wine Report, and he still acts as local consultant for The World Atlas of Wine, and is acknowledged by Jancis Robinson for his contributions to both the Oxford Companion to Wine and Wine Grapes, the great guide to wine-grapes. He is also a frequent contributor to the British journal, the World of Fine Wine. Tim’s own book, Wines of the New South Africa: Tradition and Revolution, is being published in mid-2013 by the University of California Press.
Something else that takes up much of Tim’s time for the middle months of each year the Platter guide, for which he both judges wine and acts as Associate editor. Educational activities are past (he taught Diploma course for the Cape Wine Academy for many years), as is the memory of hard work towards his Cape Wine Master diploma. Tasting for big competitions is something he has learned to avoid, however; he doubts if anyone can usefully taste 150 cabernets in one day, but knows for certain that he cannot.
Even further in a rapidly-growing past is his time as an academic, when he gained a PhD in English literature (from the University of Cape Town, after a Masters degree in Sociology of Literature at Essex University in England). But Tim still earns enough to pay his bills working part-time, doing media stuff, for an energy research institute at the University (wine-journalism receipts do not go far unless you work very much harder than he likes to).
Tim now lives quietly with his dog in Cape Town, and loves visiting wine farms, meeting wine-people and drinking their wines, much more than he enjoys writing about such things.