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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

Given Jefferson’s meticulous note taking in his Account Books and his habit of making a copy of most of his letters (via the use of the polygraph machine), he is perhaps one of the most quoted Revolutionaries.  Though scores of popular quotes are attributed to Jefferson, several of the most used are slightly ‘misquoted. – like the following:

Jefferson noted many things a “necessary of life” (including hair powder, salad oil, salt and books), but wine was certainly one of the most famous. The actual quotation, in its original context, is as follows:

“For the present I confine myself to the physical want of some good Montepulciano; and your friendship has heretofore supplied me with that which was so good that I naturally address my want to you. In your letter of May 1.05. you mention that what you then sent me was produced on grounds formerly belonging to the orders of Jesuits and sold for the benefit of the government in 1773. at the time that that institution was abolished. I hope it has preserved it’s reputation, & the quality of it’s wines. I send this letter to my friend John Vaughan of Philadelphia and inclose with it to him 50.D. to be remitted to you and I pray you to send me it’s amount in Montepulciano, in black bottles, well corked & cemented, and in strong boxes, addressed to the Collector of any port from Boston to the Chesapeake, to which the first opportunity occurs: Norfolk & Richmond being always to be preferred, if a conveyance equally early offers. But the warm season will be so fast advancing, when you receive this, that no time will be to be lost. Perhaps I may trouble you annually to about the same amount, this being a very favorite wine, and habit having rendered the light and high flavored wines a necessary of life with me.” – Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Appleton, Monticello, 14 January 1816

Note that the phrase in question is mis-transcribed in Lipscomb and Bergh’s Writings of Thomas Jefferson – it is printed as “necessity of life” instead of “necessary of life.”

What follows are several of Jefferson’s most notable wine, beer, and cider quotes:

“We could in the United States make as great a variety of wines as are made in Europe, not exactly of the same kinds, but doubtless as good.” (One of Jefferson’s most notable wine related quotes.)

“By making this wine vine known to the public, I have rendered my country as great a service as if I had enabled it to pay back the national debt.”

“I have lived temperately…I double the doctor’s recommendation of a glass and a half of wine each day and even treble it with a friend.”

“I think it is a great error to consider a heavy tax on wines as a tax on luxury.  On the contrary, it is a tax on the health of our citizens.” (In the spirit of self-interest, Jefferson was a life long proponent of lower taxes on imported wine.)

“Wine … the true old man’s milk and restorative cordial.”

“Wine from long habit has become an indispensable for my health.”

“Malt liquors & cider are my table drinks”

“Cultivators of the earth are the most virtuous and independent citizens.”

“I rejoice as a moralist at the prospect of a reduction of the duties
on wine by our national legislature… Its extended use will carry
health and comfort to a much enlarged circle.”

Very curious of what others think of this particular quote?

“The habit of using ardent spirits by men in office has occasioned more injury to the public, and more trouble to me, than all other causes. Were I to commence my administration again, the first question I would ask respecting a candidate for office would be, Does he use ardent spirits? “

“No nation is drunken where wine is cheap; and none sober where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage. It is, in truth, the only antidote to the bane of whiskey.”

“Beer, if drunk in moderation,  softens the temper, cheers the spirit and promotes health.”

Not a wine quote, but my favorite Thomas Jefferson quote:

“No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any.”

Over 100 years after Jefferson, and nothing to do with TJ, but one of my personal favorite wine quotes (and favorite books and authors):

“In Europe we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also a great giver of happiness and well being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Day 10 – The Curious Philip Mazzei (and his influence on Thomas Jefferson and wine)


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