Q&A with Cliff Roberson


Cliff Roberson (pictured right with brother Sidney) has worked in the wine trade for nearly 60 years. He’s sold wine to Dalí, Rockefeller and Warhol while working for Sherry Lehmann in New York. Château Lascombes was home in the 60s while exporting wine for Alexis Lichine. In 1972 he started Buckingham Vintners, importing bulk wine to sell to UK supermarkets. He developed London’s first urban winery, London Cru, having seen similar in the US. In 2017 he bought 40 acres of the Kentish Weald in memory of his son Luke. So far he’s planted over 4,000 trees.


What’s the first wine you remember drinking?
A claret. I was 16 and working in Peter Dominic’s wine shop in Worthing. It tasted like rubbish.

What job would you be doing if you weren’t in the wine trade?
I’d have been involved in music, in a band or behind the scenes.

How do you relax?
That’s personal.

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
Karl Marx: A Life by Francis Wheen. A fascinating story, brilliantly told. Marx was an interesting fella, lived in exile here in London for 30-odd years during politically turbulent times. He wrote most of his stuff in the British Museum library.

Do you have any sporting loyalties?
Tottenham. I was born pretty much next door to the ground; they are my team. My favourite player is Martin Chivers.

Who’s your favourite music artist?
Lou Reed. My favourite album of his is Transformer. I’ve seen him play many. many times.

Any superstitions?
Throwing salt over my shoulder … and I see a pin and always pick it up, as my mother did before me.

Who’s your favourite wine writer?
Peter Stafford-Bow. He takes the piss out of a lot of things that are close to home, an industry I know well and one that is partial to taking itself way too seriously. He’s very very funny.

Give us a Netflix or TV recommendation.
The Inbetweeners.

Which historical figure would you like to meet and what would you ask them?
Alexander the Great. “What do you make of all this?”

What’s your most treasured possession?
My life.

What’s your proudest moment?
Planting trees in memory of my son.

What’s your biggest regret?
I try not to regret anything, but possibly giving up the Roberson shop in Kensington.

Any hidden talents?
Probably, but I don’t know where they are.

What’s your favourite place in the UK?
Home. I live in Wraysbury and have done for 40 years. It’s where the Magna Carta was signed 800 years ago, near a 2,500-year-old yew tree. It’s where I and my family grew up and it’s full of all the memories of who I am and who I have been. It is beautiful. I overlook fields and it’s very easy on the eye.

If you could have a wish come true, what would it be?
That people were not so infinitely stupid. I include myself in that.

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