Thomas Jefferson’s Love of Wine Spurred Virginia’s

Thomas Jefferson
Rembrandt Peale 1800
Thomas Jefferson

The wine business has taken off in Virginia, with over 200 licensed wineries in the state, and a growing enthusiasm for Virginia wines on the part of wine aficionados. We should remember to thank Thomas Jefferson, at least in part, for the growth of this enterprise. When Jefferson was our ambassador in France in the late 1700’s, he spent a lot of time touring Europe and getting to know viticulturists in Germany, France and Italy. He made carefully planned visits to all the growers and winemakers he could locate, and when he returned to America, he imported wine directly from them, always insisting on getting containers of bottled wine sent to him instead of barrels, because he believed he would get better quality wine that way. He had the best wine cellar in the region, and when he became president, an equally impressive collection in the new White House wine cellar.

When he retired to Monticello, Jefferson tried for years to grow grapes with vines he imported from Europe. For many reasons, the vines died and failed. If the vines survived the ocean crossing with any life in them, they died from all kinds of diseases, the most prevalent being fungus, a problem that Virginia grape growers still struggle with each season, even though today’s growers have effective sprays to combat disease. Also, Jefferson didn’t have the disease-resistant grafted vines now used by viticulturists worldwide.

Thomas Jefferson was so intrigued by fine wines that he continually exceeded his financial means in order to import the very best. When he died, some of his debt was connected to his love of fine wines as well as his valuable book collection. Everyone knows that Thomas Jefferson’s book connection became the basis for the Library of Congress, but he should also be given credit that his fascination with wine became a legacy that has been a powerful inspiration for the many growers and winemakers in the Commonwealth.

While Thomas Jefferson was still alive, a Richmond, Virginia scientist, Dr. D.N. Norton, experimented with planting and combining grape seeds from native vines during the 1820’s and eventually produced a very dark grape named “Norton” after him, and is still a great favorite with Virginia wine drinkers. One of its unique characteristics, besides having the darkest pigment of any wine, is that it is disease-resistant and does very well even in the humid Virginia growing season. You have to wonder if it is a tragedy that Thomas Jefferson never knew about Dr. Norton’s experiments with the Norton grape. Would Jefferson would have found this vine the answer to his prayers? He might have ignored it, since it was not one of the fine European vinifera grapes he learned to treasure during his European travels. We will never know the answer, but it is food for thought -- or perhaps, wine for thought.

Mar 14, 2013 at 12:56 PM Raymond

Nice article Donna. Few Americans know of Thomas Jefferson's love for fine wines. He loved Madeira wine and kept an ample supply in his cellar. When we signed the Declaration Of Independance, our signers toasted this event with madeira wine. Since madeira doesn't change appreciably in the bottle and If Jefferson had bottled the madeira for this event and we had a bottle today, we could taste the same madeira our forefathers had on that same historic day! Cheers!

Mar 20, 2013 at 1:10 PM Dave Barber

I think that Mr. Jefferson would be quite pleased with the Norton grape and its wine. Towards the end of his life, Mr. Jefferson concluded that this great land could produce some of the finest wines in the world, not necessarily the same ones as produced elsewhere, but none the less just as good. He had already embraced the Alexander grape for white wines, and most likely, the Norton would be well received for the reds... if he had lived a few more years.

Jan 14, 2014 at 11:29 AM newbalancejptop

Our global responsible leadership movement is based on our company and our associates giving back, moving the environment forward and encouraging people to act as catalysts and coaches.
Since our beginning in 1906, and with our first pair of running shoes in 1938, New Balance has been committed to moving the world physically, emotionally and intellectually. With over 4,100 associates worldwide, and New Balance product available in over 120 countries, we strive to make an impact in three broad areas.
It is with great pleasure that New Balance presents its first comprehensive Responsible Leadership report.
The full report dives deep into NB's history, culture and values. It also provides vision and initiatives for our global sustainability, social and community efforts.

ニューバランス スニーカー
ニューバランス レディース
ニューバランス ランニングシューズ
ニューバランス 996
ニューバランス 574
ニューバランス 1400

Mar 1, 2014 at 12:13 PM miumiu 財布

このデザイナーのレプリカのハンドバッグが正規本物ミュウミュウミュウミュウディアスキンレザーバッグの。「60年代は、まだ、民俗想像今後。各の種類ミュウミュウミュウミュウ弓袋はスタイリッシュなと絶妙な。miumiu 財布

Mar 2, 2014 at 8:46 AM win7 価格

Shattered glass can locate its distance to passenger's eyes or
even worse, passengers can be thrown the shattered pickup truck's window.
A window air conditioning is a budget solution for often used rooms.
Once built, add the fabric and batting, using simple gift wrapping rules to "upholster" your cornice board, gluing or stapling the fabric to the lining.
Isn't replacing someone pane window easy?

Mar 26, 2014 at 10:44 PM

"Select a practitioner who is thorough and committed to using one remedy at a time. Invitation - to be courteous, the TEISYU should write to the people and state the purpose, place and time of the gathering. Like wise, people with different diagnoses, may receive the same remedy because their overall constitutional patterns are similar.

Apr 16, 2014 at 10:07 AM

İt is a compound աhich hɑs been synthesized to copy thе impact օf dimethylphenylethylamine, tɦe primary ingredient pгesent іn phentermine.

Ƴߋu'relikely to oոly boost your wоrk oսt by 10-15 % ɑt a time.
Ϝoг these reasons thе FDA test tɦese products rigorously tо
protect ߋur health from Ьeing compromised.

Post New Comment

Comments which are spam, off-topic, abusive, or use excessive foul language will be deleted.
No HTML markup is allowed. URLs will be turned into links automatically. 3000 character limit.

If you want a small picture next to your comments, get a gravatar.

Thu, 24 Apr 2014 14:48:50 -0400

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest Georgetowner updates.