Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Wine

Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Wine

A renaissance man worth his weight in books, Thomas Jefferson was also among the greatest wine connoisseurs of his time. With his birthday tomorrow, we salute the Founding Father and Vintner in Chief.

Jefferson developed a passion for wine at an early age. By the time he turned 26 in 1769, he had built a wine cellar as one of the first structures on his famous estate, Monticello. In 1771 he planted the first grape vines on the property, hoping to achieve a self-sustaining farm—wine being an integral part of sustenance, of course.

While posted in France, Jefferson became a true wine connoisseur. In 1787 he toured France and Northern Italy, taking careful notes on farming techniques and winemaking practices. Having taken close note of the best wineries, he began to order wines himself directly from the châteaux—among his favorites: Lafite, Haut-Brion, and d’Yquem. Some things never change.

On wine he once said, “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." We’d say history has proved him a visionary.

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