Robin Blackburne MW
Became an MW 1959, died 31 July 2020
Tribute published by the IMW, 3 August 2020
Robin was born and educated in England and developed an early passion for wine. He studied oenology at Bordeaux University, and after spending a year across France and Spain, he went back to Bordeaux to complete his wine trade ‘stage’.
Robin returned to England to join Saccone and Speed where he spent nearly ten years. During that decade he visited every vineyard region of France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Germany.
In 1962 Robin moved to Bermuda to found the Bristol Cellar which he headed for 25 years, and in 1987 he established Robin Blackburne Ltd (International Wine Consultants).
Many members may know that Robin invented and designed the ViniCool, the vacuum-operated, water-free regulator of wine bottle temperatures. You may not know that he also created the Blackburne Tennis Racquet -”using double-strung racket technology that eliminates frame shots and provides superior comfort for tennis players of all levels.”
Robin judged and lectured throughout the USA and Europe, wrote regular articles for magazines and is the author of a collection of comic verse. Indeed, when Robin was celebrated at the annual awards ceremony in November 2019, in honour of his 60 years as an MW, he could not attend the ceremony but sent a verse to read on his behalf. It was originally penned in 2009, and it feels appropriate to share this with you all again today.
Robin died on Friday 31 July 2020 in the morning. He was 86. His daughter Amanda told us that he remained passionate about wine until the very end. “He was tasting some whites for the Bristol Cellar just a few weeks ago, and he was worried that he had not finished. Just a few days ago, he asked us to check on them. It seemed so unimportant at the time given the circumstances, but it meant a lot to him. He was always honoured to be a Master of Wine.”
Our thoughts go out to all of Robin’s family and friends. We will share any service details once known.