Jefferson, Thomas

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

(1743–1826), third president of the United States, a wine lover whose interest in wine and hopes for American wine-growing typified the early Republic. As a virginia farmer, Jefferson grew grapes from all sources, native (see vitis, american vine species) and vinifera, at his estate Monticello for 50 years with uniform lack of success: no Monticello wine ever materialized, but the hope never died. His vineyard at Monticello has been restored to the form it had in 1807.

As ambassador to France (1784–9), Jefferson made himself expert in wine, travelling to all the major French wine regions as well as to those of Germany and Italy. He tasted, discussed, and bought largely, and acted also as agent and adviser for his friends in the selection and purchase of wines. The record of this activity contained in his papers is a small encyclopedia of pre-Revolutionary wine and wine production. As president (1801–9), Jefferson was celebrated for the variety and excellence of his cellar at the White House in Washington, which abounded in chambertin, margaux, hermitage, yquem, and tokay.