Julia van der Vink, Viticulturalist
What did you study at Harvard?
I studied Government and Economics as an undergrad.
Were you involved with any food or wine activities while a student?
I took Tom Conley’s Kirkland wine seminar, stocked shelves at Ball Square Fine Wines in Somerville after classes, and began the WSET diploma during my senior year.
Do you think that Harvard has prepared you for a career in food and wine or hospitality in general? If so, how?
Yes, Harvard prepared me indirectly in so many ways. My friends and classmates inspired me to work hard and to put in the long hours required to achieve goals. My VES professor, John Stilgoe, gave me confidence in my creativity and instincts. His courses helped open my eyes to the complexity of natural systems, while also acknowledging beauty in technical and mechanical forms. Reconciling these two worlds – the natural and the technological – is a central part of my work now.
What work do you do now?
After graduation, I spent 3 years apprenticing with winemakers in California, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. Now I am the viticulturist and R&D manager for a vineyard in the Napa Valley.