Thomas Jefferson once owned the property that is now the site of Jefferson Vineyards. At the Albemarle County farm, historical comparisons are inevitable. Thomas Jefferson was determined to replicate the wines he had enjoyed in Europe; he had tasted the best Bordeaux wines available and intended to ship not only wines, but vines to Monticello, his estate near Charlottesville.
He convinced Fillipo Mazzei, an Italian entrepreneur who had come to the colonies with a selection of grapevines ready for planting, to establish them on Monticello soil. For this purpose Jefferson gave Mazzei 200 acres of land adjacent to Monticello. Mazzei built his home Colle, described on the historical marker at the winery’s entrance, and planted several varieties of Vinifera vines on the land.
In the meantime, Mazzei produced two barrels of wine from several of the best wild grape varieties found on the property and was very pleased with the results. He was so impressed that he wrote, “...the best wine in the world will be made from here...” There are many accounts of this viticultural effort and its untimely failure. The lack of modern-day viticultural knowledge combined with Revolutionary War activities worked together to prevent the success of Jefferson’s goals.
In 1981, some 200 years later, modern-day Jefferson Vineyards was established. With an ideal climate, growing conditions, and focused goals to produce the best possible wine, Jefferson Vineyards has surpassed the original dream.
The current vineyard was established by Italian agronomist and winemaker Gabrielle Rausse, and the present winemaker is native Virginian Andy Reagan. Jefferson’s wines have a consistent reputation for elegance and balance, Jefferson Vineyards is working to focus on the strengths of the innate ability of a specific vineyard site (considering soil types and microclimate conditions) to produce the best wines available.
With approximately 26 acres planted on site, and 20-30 additional nearby vineyard acres under management contracts, Andy is working with area winegrowers to support the goal of creating subtle, classic wines that reflect the larger community’s terroir. The land has been operated as a diversified farming operation for many years.
Their farm outlet, Brix Marketplace, features freshly prepared foods and a select line of condiments and spices. The winery was designed in 1986 by an Italian architect. Expansions in the last few years increased the storage of the barrel and tank areas to 6000 square feet, and provided space to work with incoming individual vineyard fruit to highlight the unique characteristics of their contributions to Jefferson Vineyards’ award winning wines.
The tasting room is also larger and the spacious deck is a wonderful place to spend a long summer afternoon with a Brix lunch and a glass of wine. The tasting room and winery are open every day for tours and tastings.
- Sharon Bradshaw
2001 Petit Verdot
Tasting Notes Coming Soon!