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Axel Borg, Emeritus Distinguished Wine and Food Science Bibliographer

Podcast: Axel Borg Reflects on a Career Helping Cultivate the World’s Greatest Wine Library

Building the UC Davis wine library — “the greatest wine library in the world,” as described by wine writer Hugh Johnson — takes passion, patience, relationships and an understanding that the journey will never truly end. No one knows that better than Axel Borg, Emeritus Distinguished Wine and Food Science Bibliographer, who helped grow the UC Davis wine collection over the entirety of his 33-year career with the university.

Retired in June 2020, Borg now volunteers his time to UC Davis as an emeritus librarian. He recently joined Jane Anson, co-host of The Wine Conversation podcast, where he shares the history of the wine library, some of his favorite items in the collection, and his inadvertent role in returning rare, 18th-century Bordeaux merchant letters — stolen around the first World War — to their rightful owners. 

1549 book " Deuis sur la vigne, vin et vendages" opened to cover page.
One of Borg’s favorite items in the collection, this 1549 book on wine, titled “Deuis sur la vigne, vin et vendages,” includes the word “terroir” in modern usage. This copy was owned by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, a French politician who served as the Minister of Finances of France from 1661 to 1683 under the rule of King Louis XIV.

Toward the end of the interview, he notes that the future of the collection is just as bright:

“We’re in a renaissance, if you will, for the collection. My only regret is that I’m not 30 years younger. It’s a huge thing, and it’s going to be wonderful.”

We could go on, but really, you should just give it a listen.  


Related: A Tribute to UC Davis Wine Librarian Axel Borg

This post is part of Archives and Special Collections’ Food and Wine Wednesdays series. Every Wednesday through February, we’re sharing something from our food and wine collections, whether it be a recent acquisition, an interview, a unique manuscript, a rare book, ephemera from the archives, or an upcoming event. Feel free to share your thoughts and feedback with us!


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