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The Fruits of the Vine: a celebration

Image of alumni event

17.45 – 21.45 SGT | 17.45 – 21.45 HGT | 19.45 – 23.45 AEST | 10.45 – 14.45 BST

Girton College is delighted to be hosting a virtual wine tasting and learnings event on Saturday 12 June 2021, from 11am to 2.30pm (BST). This event is open to all Girton alumni. The timings are fixed so that we can also welcome our alumni from the Asia Pacific region.

During the event, we will hear from Girtonian Sophia Bergqvist (Geography, 1978) on her life and career as the first woman to head up a Port House; Girton Fellow Dr Alex Thom will talk about the Chemistry of Wine and will demonstrate a simple experiment that can be done at home to discover how acidity affects flavour, and explaining why bubbles are so crucial to the success of Champagne. Master of Wine, Sarah Jane Evans (Classics 1972), will be telling the story of her life in wine at Girton, and subsequently. The presentation will be illustrated by a selection of wines, and a matching set of tapas from Camino restaurants (available for pre-purchase on the booking form). Sophia Berqvist will also be introducing one of her wines. Sarah Jane’s talk will range across her studies to become a Master of Wine, blind-tasting, the reliability of scores and medals, trends in winemaking from amphoras to eggs, single vineyards, and more.

We will finish the event with a roundtable discussion between the three speakers responding to questions from the alumni. The Mistress will then give an update on College matters and raise a glass to the College and our alumni.

Tickets and Wine tasting packs: 

This event is free to attend for all Girton alumni, please book your place using the online booking form on our website or email

Wine tasting packs for Sarah Jane's session can also be purchased through the same form. The price is £45 (inc. VAT) per box. The tasting pack consists of six 55ml bottles of wine accompanied by six shrink-wrapped tapas. There will be sufficient for two people to share a tasting portion but if you wish you can ‘double up’ by ordering a second pack. Unfortunately we cannot vary the foods to cater for gluten-free or vegetarian requirements.
Please note that the tasting boxes are available to UK residents only due to restrictions regarding overseas delivery. We will be mailing guests outside the UK with guidance on appropriate wines to purchase in their local markets, so that they can taste along with the presentation.

However, if you prefer not to have the tasting pack, each session will also be very interested to everyone with or without wine.  

The closing date to receive orders by is Monday 31 May 2021. 

Please do not hesitate to contact the events organiser ( or +44 (0)1223 764935) should you have any questions.

We very much hope that you are able to join us for what should prove to be a fascinating insight into, and celebration of, the “fruits of the vine”.

Please feel free to contact the Development Office ( if you have any queries.

Virtual Event

This is an online event and we will use the video conferencing platform, Zoom. If you wish to attend, please ensure that you have downloaded the Zoom software onto your smartphone, tablet or computer.


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Alex Thom

Dr Alex Thom is a University Lecturer in Theoretical Chemistry in the University of Cambridge, as well as being a Fellow of Girton College and Director of Studies in Chemistry at Magdalene College. His research interests are in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry, specializing in method and software development. Dr Thom is also a keen oenologist.

There’s a lot of chemistry in winemaking. In addition to alcohol, acidity and water, wine is made up of hundreds of different volatile molecules which vary from year to year, grape to grape, wine to wine. The joy of chemistry is that we can play with some of these elements in a controlled fashion. 

Dr Alex Thom will demonstrate a simple experiment that can be done at home to discover how acidity affects flavour, and explaining why bubbles are so crucial to the success of Champagne. 

Sophia Bergqvist

Sophia Bergqvist graduated from Girton in 1981 having studied Geography.  She went on to work in the City then took an MBA at INSEAD before spending a few years working for the management consultants, Booz Allen.  In those days her plans were to work in the World Bank or IMF wanting to 'change the world’;  her real dream was to try and keep her grandmother’s vineyard, Quinta de la Rosa, in the family.
In 1988, together with her father, she started making port from the grapes grown at Quinta de la Rosa, idyllically situated on the banks of the Douro River in Northern Portugal.  With no brand name and no distribution it was quite a challenge and she soon realised the need to diversify into wine production and tourism.  La Rosa was one of the first producers of port to commercialise red wine in the Douro region.  It has also been a pioneer in developing and promoting enotourism and now has a small hotel with 25 rooms, a shop & tasting room and opened a restaurant in 2017.  
Quinta de la Rosa produces over 400,000 bottles per annum and employs over 60 people locally.  It has a global network of importers (but not in Hong Kong or Singapore!) and has developed a strong reputation for its quality and innovation.  La Rosa was one of only 400 global wineries invited to attend the Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience in 2019.  Its wines and ports regularly get 95+ points and can be found in many prestigious Michelin starred restaurants and retailers.

Sarah Jane Evans

Sarah Jane Evans (Phillips 1972) read Classics Part I and Social and Political Sciences Part II. Before coming up to Cambridge she lived in Spain for some months. After graduating Sarah Jane worked in book publishing and then joined the BBC’s Good Food magazine where she worked for a decade, and began studying for wine qualifications.  Since 2004 she has been an independent writer and journalist.  In 2006 she became a Master of Wine, winning the Robert Mondavi winery Award for the highest overall marks in Theory papers. She also recently received the Wine and Spirit Education Trust’s Outstanding Alumni Award. Sarah Jane retains a strong interest in wine education and has been Chairman of the Institute of Masters of Wine. She is Co-Chairman of the Decanter World Wine Awards, the world’s largest wine competition, and until March 11, 2000 would spent much time travelling internationally to consult, research, present and write about wine. Her books include Seville and The Wines of Northern Spain, and she is currently researching The Wines of Central and Southern Spain. She is Chairman of the Gran Orden de Caballeros del Vino, and has received a number of awards and accolades from the wine industry for her work.  She is a founder member of the Academy of Chocolate.  She lives in London with her husband, and has two grown-up daughters.