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President Jefferson’s Passion for Wine

Many presidents enjoy wine. But it was Thomas Jefferson who had a passion for the grape. Before his presidency, he was the Ambassador to France in the 1780’s. While in France he toured the wine regions and became accustomed to French wine. As President he had many French wines served at the White House. Wines from Côte d’Or, Hermitage and Medoc were among his favorites. When back in Virginia, he tried for years to cultivate vinifera grapes in the fertile Virginia soil. Jefferson was unsuccessful as the vines kept dying. There are no records that he made wine. He did however create an extensive wine library.

Thomas Jefferson’s unsuccessful attempts to grow vinifera were in part due to phylloxera. A litter further north, John Adlum was successfully growing vinifera grafted onto American rootstock. He successfully planted vinifera vineyards in Harve de Grace, Maryland and Washington D.C.

Thomas Jefferson’s passion for wine serves as inspiration for many winemakers and enthusiasts for generations.

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