Nestled on the Monticello Wine Trail between Jefferson Vineyards and the Kluge winery, Ash Lawn-Highland offers stunning landscapes and picture perfect grounds along with a detailed house tour that sheds further light on the lives and times of the Monroe family. The engaging house tour leaves you with a real feel of who James Monroe was - an outstanding president in and of himself, but who,by some accounts, was seemingly overshadowed by being down-line of such founding giants as Washington and Jefferson.
Who Was James Monroe?
Known perhaps first and foremost for the Monroe Doctrine, giving fair warning to European aspirations and attempts to colonize the new nation, and eventually influencing the notion of Manifest Destiny (the belief that the nation's borders would stretch from sea to "shining sea"), as President, James Monroe, significantly contributed to both the stability and expansion of the budding United States of America. Monroe was a major proponent of the Bill of Rights and along with Jefferson fully supported States' rights and a limited central government. While not big into his own birthday, Monroe was emphatic about celebrating Independence Day on the Fourth of July. So it seems fitting somehow that Monroe, like Jefferson and Adams, also died on the Fourth of July. With Jefferson and Adams both passing away on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and Monroe on the 55th anniversary.
Today Ash Lawn-Highland is host to over 60,000 visitors a year, well-placed on the Monticello Wine Trail it makes for a fascinating historical stop amidst winery tours and tastings - quinching the thirst of history buffs and wine enthusiasts alike. An annual Wine Festival, held each May, and weddings, reunions and corporate events find the spacious grounds of Ash Lawn-Highland a spectacular backdrop for a variety of gatherings.
Originally covering over 3,500 acres during Monroe's day and referred to simply as "Highland" the property has undergone subsequent ownership which has simultaneously lengthened the name and reduced its acreage. However, Ash Lawn-Highland is a self-supporting estate that invites visitors of all ages to come and enjoy a captivating glimpse into one of the most authentic colonial homes of the time. Much of the home's furnishings are origninals that belonged to the Monroe family, and while not boasting the grandeur of nearby Monticello, the seven bedroom home has a convincing feel about it. One can almost picture James and Elizabeth carrying on life as one of Thomas Jefferson's closest neighbors.
Monroe Family Wine-themed Recipes
Among James Monroe's family recipes, two in particular may be of interest to wine lovers. The first a delicious recipe for cake pudding with a white wine sauce topping and Syllabub a dessert-themed wine cocktail of sorts. Both are surprisingly simple to make and are equally delectable, not to mention totally in theme for Fourth of July, Memorial Day and other patriotic celebrations!
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary travel for the purpose of reviewing the region and the event. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.