Like any good suburban neighbors hatching a scheme over beers and barbecue, Thomas Jefferson hatched a scheme with Filippo Mazzei, an Italian patriot living on the next hill over from Monticello. Mazzei was an Italian patriot from a well-known wine family. They decided that they’d form a company to produce fine, European style wines on American shores.
But a revolution intervened, and though grapes were planted, they were either trampled by British horses or died due to disease and neglect. Wine was never made.
But now there’s a flourishing wine industry in Albemarle County. We traveled east to connect some of the dots and gather more footage for the film.