Hugh Johnson has been writing about wine, trees, travel and gardening in books and magazines since the 1960s. He was born in St John's Wood, London, the son of a barrister, and brought up in London and Kent. After school at Rugby and an English degree at King's College, Cambridge he entered journalism, wrote for Vogue and House & Garden, edited Wine & Food magazine and became wine editor, then travel editor, of The Sunday Times.

His first book, Wine, was published in 1966. From 1968-1970 he edited the fashion magazine Queen, but left it to write The World Atlas of Wine, which was published in 1971. His International Book of Trees followed in1973; then a succession of books on wine and gardening including Hugh Johnson's Wine Companion, The Principles of Gardening, his annual Pocket Wine Book(now in its 40th year) , The Story of Wine (linked to a 13-part television series), Tuscany and its Wines and his memoirs, A Life Uncorked. Hugh has also been President since 1973 of the Sunday Times Wine Club.

Hugh married Judy Grinling in 1965. They moved from London to Saling Hall, in the north of Essex, 50 miles from London, in 1971 and raised their three children, Lucy, Red and Kitty, in the country. The garden at Saling Hall was a principle preoccupation since, giving rise, from 1975, to Tradescant's (or Trad's) Diary.

"I would read any book of Hugh's", wrote a New York reviewer in the 1980s, "even if he were writing about coal mining".

Hugh and Judy moved back to London in 2014.