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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

Only Day 5 in to this 30-day series and am giving serious thought to extending to another month. The more I ‘learn’ about Thomas Jefferson’s wine experiences, the less I feel l know.  Jefferson on wine is an infinite subject and it’s easy to understand how authors like John Hailman (Jefferson on Wine) and James Gabler (Passions: The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson.) spent many years conducting exhaustive research in to this subject.

Since October is Virginia Wine Month and I already have ’31 Days of Virginia Wine’ planned, I won’t be able to extend the Jefferson series in to October, but may bring it back for November.

The emails I’ve received from those following this series – regular readers and new readers who found this site as a result of this Jefferson series – has been encouraging, and I thank you.

This weekend I had the chance to return to Jefferson’s Monticello to tour the vineyards with Gabriele Rausse. Gabriele’s official title at Monticello is, Associate Director of Gardens & Grounds, but he is actually one of the early pioneers of the Virginia wine industry and winemaker at Monticello.

Today’s post provides a pictorial of the vineyards and wine cellar at Monticello – tomorrow I will follow up with the details and history of Jefferson’s attempts to grow grapes at Monticello.

Disclaimer:  For new readers, you will quickly realize that my photography skills are questionable at best.  In the spirit of shirking responsibility, I blame my camera.  What I lack in photography skills, I make up in genius and personality. 😉


Monticello's West Front

View of Vineyards on the grounds at Monticello. Same location that Jefferson planted vineyards. Replanted in 1984 and 1991. First vintage 1999. Grapes in the Monticello vineyards are scheduled to be harvested some time during week of September 6th. In good years, Rausse has made 1,000 bottles of wine from these Monticello grapes.

Muscat vines, fan trellis.

Gabriele Rausse and me in vineyards at Monticello.

Row of Trebbiano grapes - the second most widely planted grape in the world.

Trebbiano grapes - tasty.

Chatting with Gabriele Rausse with Monticello vineyards in the background.

Row of Muscat of Alexander.

Path leading to Monticello...

Wine rack with era correct bottles as part of recent renovation of wine cellar at Monticello. Architectural and archeological investigation have not yielded specific evidence of how wine bottles were stored in Jefferson’s cellar at Monticello.

Hallway outside of wine cellar leading to South.

What’s left of Monticello’s original dumbwaiter (original wood). The dumbwaiter system at Monticello has (had) four weight-and-pulley-driven wooden trolleys that rise through the ceiling into the sides of the Dining Room mantelpiece.

French wine bottle seals found on the grounds or during excavations. Left: St. Este(phe). Right: Chateau Lafite, 1784 vintage. Bottom: St. Julien, 1788 vintage.

Please check back tomorrow for detailed history of Jefferson’s attempts at growing grapes at Monticello.


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