Although Jefferson, like many early Virginia planters, cultivated wine grapes and produced some wine, it wasn’t until the 19th century that local wine grape growers began producing wines on a significant commercial scale.
Thomas Jefferson’s inquisitiveness and fondness of French culture led him to plant vineyards at Monticello. Although his vineyards never achieved a bottle of wine, for more than three decades, he worked the land and prepared it to yield European grapes. After prohibition, which began in the early 20th century and ended some 17 years later; Virginia’s commercial wine grape acreage remained minuscule. Finally, in the 1950’s efforts to grow vines derived from the European grapes begin to show promise. What begins in the state as a mere six wineries by the 1970s swelled to 46 by 1995, 107 by 2005, and currently stands at more than 200, with the state being widely considered for wine making as the sixth most important. After more than 40 decades, the steadfastness of winemakers in Virginia over the generations has certainly proven to be worthwhile.