Jefferson Vineyards

Location Description

Located where Thomas Jefferson and Philip Mazzei first began the American wine revolution.


  • Considered to have “one of the region’s most consistent track records”

Additional Information

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Growing up in idyllic northern Westchester County NY, amongst a family of gardeners who planted and harvested a variety of plants, Christopher Ritzcovan learned at an early age to appreciate the natural world and its richness. A graduate of the University of Virginia, Chris began his tenure at Jefferson Vineyards in 2007. Soon after a hiatus for graduate school, Chris returned to our winery where he helped manage the cellar. Upon being appointed Winemaker in 2013, Chris has blended wines that display a fresh, fruit-forward style accompanied by a soft mouth feel while maintaining a bright, crisp acidity and dry finish. Many of these wines have earned prestigious international awards, including a double gold medal at San Francisco's 2014 International Wine Competition for our 2013 Viognier.


Thomas Jefferson encouraged Philip Mazzei to form a Virginia Wine Company. The company had 38 shareholders including many prominent Colonists such as Jefferson and George Washington. A subscription of 2,000 pounds sterling was obtained for the “purpose of raising and making wine, oil, agruminous plants and silk.” Although a severe frost ruined many of the vines in 1774, years later Mazzei produced two barrels of wine from six varieties of wild grapes. In a letter to George Washington Mazzei wrote that he found Virginia soil and climate to be superior to that of Italy; "In my opinion, when the country is populated in proportion to its extent, the best wine in the world will be made here… I do not believe that nature is so favorable to growing vines in any country as this.

Convinced by Benjamin Franklin and under the sponsorship of Thomas Jefferson’s merchant friend John Adams, on September 2nd, 1773 an Italian viticulturist from Tuscany named Filippo Mazzei (or Philip Mazzei) set off to Virginia with European vines. Mazzei was headed to Augusta County, where the Virginia Legislature had promised him land. En route, Mazzei and Adams stopped at Monticello, where Thomas Jefferson convinced Mazzei to become his neighbor and gave Mazzei 193 acres south of Monticello - part of our present day land. The following year Mazzei purchased an additional 281 acre tract of land from Edward Carter. Mazzei built himself a house which he called Colle, and put his men to work clearing the land and planting vines.

In 1778 Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Mason and other Colonists sent Philip Mazzei to Italy, to borrow money for the American Revolution from Mazzei’s friend the Grand Duke of Tuscany. While he was abroad, Mazzei rented Colle to Hessian General and P.O.W. Baron von Riedesel. Within one week, the General's horses trampled the vines and “destroyed the whole labour of three or four years, and thus ended an experiment, which, from every appearance, would in a year or two more have established the practicability of that branch of culture in America.

Estate Vineyards / AVA

Thomas Jefferson and Philip Mazzei first began the American wine revolution on our estate. Continuing this tradition, in 1981 we re-established two vineyards on our land – one of the earliest plantings in recent Virginia wine history. Over three decades we have replanted select sites with vines better suited to the soil profile. Today we have several grape varieties on four superb sites, all of which offer excellent air and water drainage, as well as protection from the prevailing weather patterns.


Our winery keeps winning prestigious national and international wine awards, including a double gold medal for our 2013 Viognier (Virginia's state grape) at the 2014 San Francisco International Wine Competition - the country's largest and most prestigious wine competition.

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1353 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Charlottesville, Virginia 22902
United States

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