Jefferson Vineyards visit

Hello Friends,

Next stop on the Monticello Wine Trail took us to one of the trail’s most well known wineries, Jefferson Vineyards. Jefferson Vineyards is located in Charlottesville, VA, and is literally a grape’s throw away from Thomas Jefferson’s abode, Monticello and historic Michie Tavern. As a matter of fact, when visiting Monticello and Michie Tavern a few years ago, a Virginia winery grape sign caught our attention and delivered me to Jefferson Vineyards. This was my very first winery experience, and it’s been history, mainly written on this blog, ever since. Guess you can say I caught the wine bug, huh?

We're Here!

While not associated with Jefferson’s mountain top home, Monticello, Jefferson Vineyards is steeped in history. The present day tasting room, production facility, and vineyard resides on land once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s plan for this land was to establish a vineyard to grow wine grapes that would produce wines as good as he tasted during his travels to Europe as a young man. In 1773, Jefferson and wine merchant Filippo Mazzei attempted to plant cuttings Mazzei had brought from Spain, France, and his native Italy. This venture proved unsuccessful, and by 1809 Jefferson gave up on growing European varieties and concentrated on wild native grapes, which in his later years he surprisingly favored. While unsuccessful, Jefferson was right about one thing when he stated, “We could, here in the United States, make wines as good as any in Europe, not exactly the same kinds, but doubtless as good.”
Image of Jefferson's Wine Cellar at Monticello

Some would say that time is nearing, others would say that time is here. Whatever the opinion, some two hundred years later, Jefferson Vineyards fulfills and oversteps the dream Jefferson and Mazzei shared in establishing a wine industry in Virginia. So, while soaking in the history, we were equally as eager to sample Jefferson Vineyards current day wines. For this, we met with winemaker Andy Reagan.
Winemaker Andy Reagan

Andy is a Virginia native, and has worked in wineries and vineyards throughout the east coast before becoming the head winemaker at Jefferson Vineyards. Andy took us on a tour of the production facility and barrel room, where we stepped through the winemaking process from the time the grapes come in from harvest, to the time the wine is enjoyed in the glass. If tours are being offered when you visit, I highly recommend signing up for one, as everyone found it enlightening and enjoyable.
Tasting Bar
Following the tour, we entered the Jefferson tasting room, which is cozy and charming with distinctive character. Jefferson is a high volume tasting room, so the tasting bar is long to accommodate the large crowds and the only seating option is outdoors, which is great news with spring just around the corner.
Pours of Joy!

Andy guided us through a full tasting of Jefferson’s wines including library and reserve wines. Ironically, most of the wines made at Jefferson are produced from vinifera grape varieties; the very thing Thomas Jefferson and Filippo Mazzei were unable to grow. Wines tasted included a Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, a tasty Meritage blend, and a delicious Late Harvest Vidal Blanc for the sweet ending. Andy’s wines reflect balance, moderate acidity, good varietal character, and made in an accessible style to be consumed while young.
Waste the Day Away on the Shaded Patio
Following a tasting, find a bottle you fancy and grab a seat on the shaded patio amongst horse farms and vista views and savor the day. Got a little time? Start off by taking in the sights at Monticello, and then fill up at the southern ‘comfort food’ buffet at historic Michie Tavern before or after heading to Jefferson Vineyards. In closing, Jefferson’s dream is alive and kicking in Virginia, and he would be excited, as many locals are, to have such a booming wine industry a short distance away. When you visit, tell the kind folks that you heard about them on Dezel’s http://www.myvinespot.com/ wine blog.

Stay tuned friends ...more to come! To see my last visit to Jefferson Vineyards click here.

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