A visit to Virginia’s wine country is a trip back in time to when Thomas Jefferson planted the seeds of America’s first vineyards. Jefferson Vineyards, wanting to continue the Founding Father’s dream of wine in the region, offers visitors a rustic spot to sip chardonnay, meritage, and petit verdot while taking in Virginia’s lush landscape.
The historic location of Jefferson Vineyards, just 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) south of the historic Monticello estate, offers guests a well-rounded experience to learn about American history and Virginia wine. See how Jefferson and Italian viticulturist Filippo Mazzei imagined the state’s vineyards as you tour the winery, taste its varietals, and admire the beautiful views of Monticello and beyond. You can also hop on a private tour of the Monticello Wine Trail to explore other wineries in the Charlottesville region and learn how the unique climate of Virginia affects the wines. If traveling independently, you can spend the day exploring Jefferson Vineyards and other wineries along the Monticello Wine Trail, or visit Monticello itself and the University of Virginia.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Jefferson Vineyards is a must-visit for American history buffs and wine lovers.
- Wine tastings are available for a small fee and come with a souvenir glass.
- Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grassy hillside.
- The vineyards are wheelchair accessible and family friendly.
How to Get There
Jefferson Vineyards, located on the eastern side of Monticello, is a 10-minute drive from Charlottesville. If you’re coming from farther afield, take Route 29 from Washington DC or I-64 from Richmond. The Monticello Wine Trail is accessible only by car or organized charter bus.
When to Get There
The vineyards are open daily from 11am to 6:15pm; see the website for seasonal closures. Fall is the best time to visit Virginia, when the weather is crisp and the trees explode in hues of yellow, orange, and red.
The History of Jefferson Vineyards
Convinced by other Founding Fathers, Filippo Mazzei ventured across the Atlantic with European vines to plants America’s first winery on lands donated by Thomas Jefferson. The two neighbors aspired to produce some of the world’s greatest wines in the New World. When the American Revolution began in 1776, Mazzei enlisted as a private with the colonists—and soon after, wine production seized up until the 1980s.