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Day 1 – Thomas Jefferson, A Primer
Day 2 – The First Wine of Record, Claret
Day 3 – Jefferson and Madeira
Day 4 – Jefferson’s Favorite Wines Available Today
Day 5 – Monticello Pictorial
Day 6 – Monticello Vineyards
Day 7 – The Monticello Cellar
Day 8 – Thomas Jefferson—orchardist and cidermaker (Part 1)
Day 9 – Quotable Jefferson
Day 10 – The Curious Philip Mazzei

Day 11 – Jefferson Vineyards

The Commonwealth of Virginia is rich in history – the first permanent settlement in Jamestown in 1607, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, the American Revolution, Civil War, and of course home to America’s first commercial wine enterprise  (this particular point is often debated).  By most accounts, America’s commercial wine industry began in the spring of 1774 when Philip Mazzei planted vines on his land, now the home of Jefferson Vineyards.

Yesterday I introduced the curious Philip Mazzei and his influence on Thomas Jefferson’s early wine experiences here in Virginia.  Today, I make the connection between Philip Mazzei and today’s Virginia wine industry – Jefferson Vineyards.

Sign outside Jefferson Vineyards entrance - Colle, Philip Mazzei's estate adjacent to Jefferson's Monticello.

Jefferson Vineyard’s is located right smack dab in the middle of Virginia history, just one mile south of Jefferson’s Monticello, and near James Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highlands.  On the drive up the mountain to Jefferson Vineyards, you will pass the historic Michie Tavern and then Jefferson’s Monticello.

“We grow grapes and we make wine.  That’s all we do, and we do it very well.” ~ Jefferson Vineyards

Land at Jefferson Vineyard's, just over 200 years ago, Philip Mazzei planted vines on this land.

The land that was once home to Mazzei’s (and Jefferson’s) vineyards 200 years ago was resurrected in 1981 by the proprietors of Jefferson Vineyards, and replanted under the guidance of one of the early pioneers of the Virginia wine industry, Gabriele Rausse.

“I do not believe that nature is so favorable to growing vines in any country as this.” ~ Philip Mazzei

As part of my ‘research’ for this series, I visited Jefferson Vineyard to learn more about the land that was once home to Mazzei’s Wine Company. Though Mazzei had no commercial success with the land in the late 1700’s, today Jefferson Vineyards produces between 4,000 and 8,000 cases annually.

Historical discussion with Chad Zakaib, General Manager, Jefferson Vineyards.

Jefferson Vineyards property spans a total of 650 acres, 25 of which are under vine.  Of particular note about Jefferson Vineyards is a valuable piece of intellectual property – the signature that adorns three of their wines, ‘Th Jefferson.’  Jefferson Vineyards is the only winery in the world that is able to use Jefferson’s signature on their bottles.

Jefferson Vineyards Viognier - one of the best in Virginia (and one of my favorites).

The next time you’re in Virginia, be sure to stop by Jefferson Vineyards for great Virginia wine and piece of history! A big thank you to Jefferson Vineyards General Manager, Chad Zakaib, for spending his Sunday morning showing us around the grounds of Jefferson Vineyards and providing a historical account of their land.

Next week – Jefferson in Paris and Jefferson and Cider, Part 2

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