As one of the first two resident American Masters of Wine (1990), Joel Butler, MW has had a long and varied career in the wine industry.
Joel Butler graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in History, also attending university in Florence, Italy. In fall, 1972, he returned to Europe to learn the wine business spending many months visiting wine-producing regions, participating in the harvest in Burgundy, and gathering information. He has never ceased his involvement in the wine industry over the last 44 years. Later, he also received a Masters Degree in European History from the University of Colorado (1975).
His first book with Dr Randall Heskett: Divine Vintage: Following the Wine Trail from Genesis to the Modern Age was published by MacMillan Palgrave in November 2012. It has received positive reviews and was voted by Gourmand International UK best wine book of 2012.
In 2014, Butler contributed to the SAGE Encyclopedia of Alcohol, a three volume academic resource publication, writing on several topics, including the entry on the Roman Empire.
In 1977, Butler started writing professionally on wine for VINTAGE magazine. Subsequently, he wrote for FRIENDS OF WINE, THE INTERNATIONAL WINE CELLAR, INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY, the LA TIMES, and a regular column in the CONTRA COSTA TIMES, among others. Currently he is a Contributing Editor for the INTERNATIONAL WINE REVIEW (I-winereview.com), wineandspirits.com and his blog, WineKnowLog (www.mywineknow.com/blog).
Over the decades, Butler has been a retail and restaurant wine buyer/manager, an importer/distributor for a small San Francisco wholesaler, the National Manager and Director of Education for Diageo Chateau and Estate Wines and Ste Michelle Wine Estates respectively, and a partner in WineKnow LLC in Redmond, WA. WineKnow teaches WSET courses and counsels importers, retailers and producers, as well as writing the website’s blog; WineKnowLog. Over the years he has spoken at many conferences, including Society of Wine Educators and the European Wine Bloggers Conference in Izmir, Turkey and Montreux, Switzerland.
From January 1, 2015, He and WineKnow partner Karen Graf own World of Wines in Redmond, WA, a fine wine retail store with wine bar, featuring top wines made around the world, focusing on Northwest wines, the Mediterranean regions and older vintages.
Joel has been a highly regarded wine judge, for decades globally, most recently as a Senior Judge at the International Wine Challenge, and Decanter World Wine Awards in London, along with the Dallas Morning News Competition and the Seattle Wine Awards. He began making wine (non-commercially) in 1980, producing many award-winning wines at the California State Fair and Orange County Fair.
He is a member of the Institute of Masters of Wine, Board Vice-president for the North American IMW organization, and an associate member of ASOR.