Thomas Jefferson and Wine


Thomas Jefferson was a polymath, who, among his other pursuits, was a very impressive and knowledgeable wine expert and enthusiast. If he lived today he would also be called a “wine geek”.

Mr Jefferson also happened to be the third President of the United States, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Founding Father of the United States, Governor of Virginia, first American Minister to France and founder of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He promoted the ideals of republicanism in the United States, an ideology that encourages a system of government that emphasizes liberties and rights, and makes the people as a whole sovereign, which underlies the philosophy of democracy.

Brian Clark and Ted Burns interview John Hailman, author of the book, “Thomas Jefferson on Wine”.

Sponsor- The California Wine Club:

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Show #221
(46:47min 33MB)

15 Responses to “Thomas Jefferson and Wine”

  1. 1 R.W. Nov 17th, 2008 at 10:28 am

    This show was awesome. Jefferson was a unique President to say the least. Great topic guys…. I wonder if Jefferson had his slaves working to see if they could produce wine or anything wine related to him? Hmmm…..

  2. 2 Scott Hendley Nov 17th, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    As a Virginian (admittedly by transplant from another emerging winegrowing state – Texas), I’m always intrigued by Thomas Jefferson’s adventures in wine. Jefferson’s tastes, knowledge, and curiosity relating to the wine world were truly cutting-edge for his time and place. (For another glimpse into Jefferson’s love for wine, I recommend another book entitled Passions: The Wine and Travel of Thomas Jefferson, by James Gabler.) Thankfully, Jefferson’s spirit and enthusiasm for grape growing and wine making are successfully being carried into the future by Virginia’s current generation of winemakers. I look forward to Ted’s upcoming program on Virginia wines and winemaking!

  3. 3 Jim Stepp Nov 18th, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Sorry guys, but I can only get the first 23 seconds of the show.

  4. 4 GrapeRadio Bunch Nov 18th, 2008 at 10:43 am

    Just tested it out. It seems to work. It might have been a temp. hang up. Try again now.


  5. 5 Mike Holland Nov 18th, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    I have Gabler’s book and recommend it as well. I’m looking forward to reading Hailman’s labor of love.
    I’m now REALLY upset that I missed a chance to try the wines at Monticello three years ago while visiting relatives. But the shows on the Virginia arae over the last year or so are great ways to whet the appetite. Thanks, guys.

  6. 6 Tanya Shekhovtsova Nov 19th, 2008 at 3:32 am

    It is an interesting piece of show about Mr. Jefferson, so that it is also nice to know more about his personal appeal to wine and his concept of new ideology, which is being related to liberties of people and their rights. It is a thrilling appeal to all communities in the country.
    It will be such a pleasure to read John Hailman’s new book – “Thomas Jefferson on Wine”.

    Thank you.

  7. 7 Andrew Cheese Nov 19th, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Great show. Any idea what the alcohol content was of the Bordeaux wines that Thomas Jefferson would consume ? Did Thomas Jefferson keep tasting notes ?

  8. 8 Satria Nov 22nd, 2008 at 1:45 pm

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  9. 9 Tim Beauchamp Dec 4th, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    That was a great show. I have already ordered the book. The book store referenced in the show was a pleasure to deal with and I am thrilled that I can get a copy signed and personalized by the author. It will make a good Christmas present.

    And, I liked hearing about all of the European influences and experiences, but I was hoping to hear more about all of the domestic grape and wine experiments that Jefferson was involved in. Maybe a second show?

    Tim Beauchamp

  10. 10 Ted Burns Dec 5th, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Tim, I’d love to do a second show with John Hailman. He was really great. I’ll talk to him about that possibility. We’ve recently completed a show about Virginia wines and during the interview we all talk a little about the reasons why Jefferson was unsuccessful when trying to grow grapes to make wine, so please look for that.

    Andrew, I don’t know the answers to your questions but I’ll ask John and find out what he knows.

    Thanks for all the kind comments. Ted

  11. 11 kim Dec 17th, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I enjoyed the article. I am eager to try his estate wines. As a leader of our nation and respected, he gave a new awareness to the world of wine.


  12. 12 Michael Messner Jun 15th, 2010 at 1:55 am

    Great show, reading the book now!!

    By the way, I just saw a semidocumentary on Jefferson and at the end of his life he was bankrupt, that is part of the reason he died, the were foreclosing on Monticello.

    So maybe that is why he purchased cheaper wines.

    You guys are great, keep it up.

  13. 13 hair loss Jul 7th, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    This is like my second time coming by your Blog. Regularly I do not make comments on site, but I have to mention that this article really forced me to do so. Really fantastic post .

  14. 14 steve corley Aug 9th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    One of the interesting things to consider is that Jefferson helped fight the vine desease in France. His passion for the grappe has led to saving an entire industry and making wine more accessable to the general public. His vines are still producing to this day.

  15. 15 AllEarsAudio Sep 13th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Jefferson’s vineyards were organized into seventeen narrow terraces, each reserved for specific varieties Jefferson had received from three sources. Many of these vinifera cultivars had probably never been grown in the New World. Such a varietal rainbow, many of them table grapes, represents the vineyard of a plant collector, an experimenter rather than a serious wine maker. When this scheme failed, probably because the vines were dead on arrival or not planted properly, Jefferson became more committed to the alternative possibilities of native American vines.

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