Shedding some light on your favorite wine writers.
Jenny Peters has covered the entertainment, lifestyle, and travel worlds as a freelance journalist for many years. Her credits include writing on film, celebrities, events and parties, travel, restaurants, wine and spirits, design and architecture, health, beauty, spas, golf, automobiles, and fashion for USA Today, National Geographic Traveler, New York Lifestyles Magazine, AARP.com, Variety, New York Magazine, Coast Magazine, the Los Angeles Daily News, and many other domestic and international publications, websites, and wire services. Her favorite places to be are on the beach playing volleyball, scuba diving in warm tropical waters, sipping wine in the middle of a vineyard, or simply strolling the streets and soaking in the atmosphere of one of the world’s great cities. She splits her time between Los Angeles and New Orleans, two of the world’s greatest cities.
1. What was your first job as a writer?
I began writing marketing and advertising copy for the video marketing and wholesaling company that I started with a partner in the 1980s. I designed and wrote catalogs, press releases, etc. Before we started that company, I was a copy editor at Random House Trade, working with authors like Carl Sagan and Fran Lebowitz.
2. What led you to becoming a wine writer?
I became a freelance writer in 1989, specializing in video, film, and music. As the years went by, I began branching out into other lifestyle subjects, including travel, fashion, art, and architecture. When I took over as Editor-in-Chief of Brentwood Magazine (a luxury bimonthly print magazine) in 2005, I added a section called “Libations,” which allowed me to write about wine, which I have always loved. And I was able to hire other writers to cover spirits for that section, too.
3. What kind of reader do you have in mind when you’re writing?
I tend to mix travel and wine, doing articles that combine visiting a wine region with actual wine reviews and suggestions, for readers who love to travel and experience the wine where it is made. I’ve written many articles my local California wine regions like Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Temecula, etc., as well as international destinations including Australia’s Barossa, Clare and Margaret River regions; New Zealand’s Waipara, Central Otago, and Hawkes Bay wine areas; South Africa’s Franschhoek and Stellenbosch valleys of the Cape Winelands; Italy’s Tuscany, Piedmont, Umbria, Friuli, Sicily, Campania, and Conegliano Valdobbiadene regions; and France’s Bordeaux, Provence, and Languedoc-Roussillon. I like to give readers an overview of a region, then take a deeper dive into specific wines and wineries that exemplify the place.
4. Where is the most magical place your wine writing has brought you?
So many places! Two favorites are in Italy. Badia a Coltibuono in Tuscany’s Chianti region is breathtaking, set in a monastery built in 900 AD. Home to Tuscany’s first cooking school, being in their rustic (yet modern) kitchen, sipping their incredible wines while learning to make gnocchi is an unforgettable moment. And being high on one of the steep hills of the Prosecco Superiore region of Conegliano Valdobbiadene, and discovering a tiny unattended hut, with a small refrigerator filled with cheeses, salumi, and bread, there for the taking with an honor box for payment. Outside, a few rough wooden tables overlook the vast valley below. Pure old-fashioned Italy, pure magic.
Freelance Wine and Travel Writer
Follow Jenny on Social:
5. What was one of your favorite articles to write, and why?
Visiting Bordeaux for the first time and having the chance to see both the ancient city and to visit legendary wineries like Chateau Lafite Rothschild was a recent check off my never-finished bucket list of wine/travel dreams. I wrote the piece in 2020 for Coast Magazine (and its parent company, the Orange County Register).
6. What is the best advice someone has given you on your writing?
A college professor in a journalism class at University of Maryland advised me to write the same way I talk, to tell stories on paper the same way I would tell them verbally. It helped shape my narrative style. Her other advice was to be open to writing about a lot of different topics—to be a “Renaissance writer.” That’s really stood me in good stead as I have carved out a 30-year career as a freelance journalist.
7. What would you be doing if you weren’t writing about wine?
I am always writing about something, as my career as a freelance journalist/writer has now spanned more than 30 years. Recently, due to the pandemic, I pivoted and began writing health-related articles. But wine will always be one of my favorite topics to explore, and as the world opens up again, I’ll be happy to return to that topic I love.
Nominate someone for Sunday Spotlight: