A mere mile southeast of Monticello will take you to Jefferson Vineyards, where you can see firsthand where Thomas Jefferson’s viticultural partner, Italian Philip Mazzei, planted Jefferson's first vineyards on a 400 acre estate adjacent to Monticello. Vines were planted repeatedly, but the vineyards were never able to produce a bottle of wine. Fast-forward to 1981 and find another Italian, Gabriele Rausse, replanting the vineyards once again, but this time with notable success. Today Jefferson Vineyards cultivates 20 acres of vines (and sources when needed) to produce 4,000 to 8,000 cases of wine annually.
Wines to Try at Jefferson Vineyards:
Known for vibrant Viognier, Jefferson Vineyards puts together a stunning rendition of this northern Rhone grape. The 2009 Jefferson Vineyards Viognier ($24.95) brings serious florality to the nose with wisps of honeysuckle and stone fruit, on the palate juicy apricot is grounded by an abiding minerality and secured with mouth-watering acidity. The 2009 Jefferson Vineyards Pinot Gris ($19.95) enjoys an ultra-lean style and bright acidity, with citrus dominating the nose and palate. The 2007 Jefferson Vineyards Meritage brims with raspberry, cherry, currants and a rich, enduring intensity, reminiscent of the Old World.
Jefferson Vineyards Wine Education:
While Jefferson Vineyard's primary focus is on cultivating vines and making wine, they do offer several winemaker dinners throughout the year along with blending classes. Visitors are welcome
for tastings. Winery tours and wine tastings run daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and are $5 per person which includes a signature Thomas Jefferson wine glass.
Jefferson Vineyards Contact Information:
1353 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Charlottesville, VA 22902