Thomas Jefferson’s Viticulturalist Celebrated in Florence, Italy:

2003 brought the 230th Anniversary Celebration of Filippo Mazzei’s Arrival in Virginia

Last June in Florence, Italy, the American Consul General hosted a tasting of Virginia’s premium wines celebrating the 230th Anniversary of Filippo Mazzei’s Arrival in Virginia.

A delegation from Virginia traveled to Tuscany in late June. Italian winemakers, owners and viticulturalists were part of the celebration as well. There is every expectation that this event is leading to an expanded program of viticultural cooperation between Italy and Virginia in the tradition started by Thomas Jefferson and Filippo Mazzei, 230 years ago.

Much to the delight of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, Filippo Mazzei arrived in Virginia in late 1773 with ten viticultural workers, vines, tools and other plants. Jefferson was interested in establishing a vineyard at Monticello and making high quality wines from Virginia-grown grapes.Jefferson gave Mr. Mazzei 2,000 acres near Monticello to establish a vineyard. The vineyard was started the following year. Although Mr. Jefferson’s dream was not realized until the modern era, the efforts of these two men established a spirit of viticultural cooperation between Italy and Virginia that survives to this day.

Rich history surrounds Filippo Mazzei. He was, successively, a physician, a merchant, horticulturalist, and Virginia’s Agent in Europe during the last years of the American Revolution. Mr. Mazzei was a naturalized citizen of Virginia. Upon returning to Europe, he helped raise money for the American Revolution and he became an important counselor to many heads of state in Europe. He died in Pisa on March 19, 1816. One of Mr. Mazzei’s family descendants, Mr. Lippo Mazzei, was located and became a part of the celebration in Florence.

The Virginia Vineyards Association set up the event in cooperation with the Virginia Wineries Association and the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Agriculture Consumer Services (scroll down for links).


On the right is a wine list from a seminar at the 2003 New Orleans Wine and Food Experience which featured the actual "descendants" of President Jefferson's favorite wines. I was amazed that each vineyard is still operating and producing with little or no change since 1803. To have these at dinner paired with foods from our renaissance man's menu was thrilling.

The wine list was affixed with an authorized replica of a Jefferson postage stamp, enlarged below. Read the inscription and ponder its very American message.

Click on the arrow to read Doc's report on the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience

The Virginia Wineries Association


The Virginia Vineyards Association


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