Why not celebrate with a glass of wine from the site of his original vineyards?

In addition to being a founding father of the United States, Jefferson is also known as America’s First Wine Connoisseur. As U.S. Ambassador to France living in Paris, he toured vineyards across France, Italy and Germany. He loved the now world renown Château Haut-Brion, Lafite and Margaux.

Back home in Virginia, Jefferson envisioned his home state of Virginia producing wines that rivaled those of the Old World. In 1774 with the help of his Italian viticulturist Filippo Mazzei, he tried for over 30 years to grow vines at Monticello but disease kept any wine from ever being produced. Today this site is home to Jefferson Vineyards.

Jefferson Vineyards replanted Jefferson’s original site in 1981 and since have been producing fine wines. You’ll recognize the bottle as they are the only winery in the world able to use Thomas Jefferson’s signature on their bottles.

Today they produce award-winning Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riseling, Viongnier, Merlot, Cabernet France and Cabernet Sauvignon. Recently at the Virginia Wine Expo, my favorites were their Chardonnay Reserve ’09 (a nice crisp fruit forward wine) and Merlot ’08 (one of the few estate grown and bottled, medium bodied, like velvety chocolate covered cherries; 20% American Oak and 80% stainless steel aged). Perfect for TJ’s birthday.

Jefferson would be proud!