This is footage from a Documentary I color graded for Madisonfilm called "The Cultivated life". The story of Thomas Jefferson Vineyards, and the modern Virginia wine industry. The film explores Jefferson’s passion for fine wine and the trials and tribulations of his efforts to introduce wine culture and European vines to the U.S. and Virginia.
The story of Jefferson Vineyards, and the modern Virginia wine industry, begins in 1773 with a meeting at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello between Mr. Jefferson and Italian winemaker and industrialist Fillipo Mazzei, who planned to produce wines, oils and silks for sale in the Colonies. The idea intrigued Jefferson, famous for his love of the wines of Bordeaux,and he invested in Mazzei’s company. Jefferson’s influence attracted other investors, including George Washington, George Mason and Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of the Virginia.
Mazzei started with 400 acres of land adjoining Monticello on which he would plant vineyards and build his home, Colle. After surveying the property, Mazzei declared, much to Jefferson’s delight, “I do not believe that nature is so favorable to growing vines in any country as this." While overseeing the construction of his home, Mazzei stayed with Jefferson at Monticello, and so began their life-long relationship.
With the construction of Colle underway, Mazzei began planting in the early Spring of 1774, marking the beginning of the commercial wine industry in the Colonies, and what would become – some 200 years later -- Jefferson Vineyards.
The Revolutionary War ended Mazzei’s efforts to make wine, when our country's founding fathers sent Mazzei back to Italy to solicit war funds from the Duke of Tuscany. While away, Mazzei rented Colle to an imprisoned Hessian General captured at Saratoga, NY and housed in the Charlottesville barracks. The general’s horses made quick work of the vineyards, which then fell to ruin, and all for a time was lost.
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