Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) was a polymath: America’s “first distinguished viticulturist,” an architect, author of the American Declaration of Independence and third president of the United States. Thomas Jefferson was a talented architect of neo-classical buildings and he designed his Virginia plantation home, Monticello (Little Mountain) as well as the buildings on the campus of the University of Virginia. Construction of Monticello began in 1769. Jefferson was inspired by classical European architecture. The 43-room mansion has 13 skylights.
Monticello is situated on the summit of an 850-foot peak in the Southwest Mountains that run parallel to the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 1987, Monticello and the nearby University of Virginia, also designed by Jefferson, were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Jefferson was inspired by the principles of the Venetian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio who was active in the Republic of Venice. Monticello is a relection of Palladian proportions on the pedimented portico. Jeffersonian Architecture is an American form of Neo-Palladianism that was very popular between 1790 and 1830 in America.
Andrea di Pietro (1508-1580) was known as Palladio. Palladio was influenced primarily by Vitruvian design principles; symmetry, perspective and values of the formal classical temple architecture of the Ancient Greeks and Romans.
Palladio was a stone mason’s apprentice who became the most influential architect of his generation. Palladio’s urban dwellings and villas are scattered throughout the Venato. His Palladian architectural principles gained world-wide prominence in the 18th century.
A Palladian Villa is characterized by pillared porticos and arches. Unfortunately, fourteen of his villas were destroyed by World War II bombs. The city of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
For over 40 years, Monticello was designed and redesigned, built and rebuilt. Thomas Jefferson is buried on the grounds and this area is designated as the Monticello Cemetery.
At one time, Jefferson’s plantation included “quarters for domestic slaves along Mulberry Row near the house; gardens for flowers, produce and Jefferson’s experiments in plant breeding, plus tobacco fields and mixed crops. Cabins for field slaves were located further from the mansion.”
Monticello and the key buildings of the University of Virginia are directly related to American Palladianism using principles from classical architecture. The similarities between the Pantheon in Rome and the Rotunda of the University of Virginia are apparent when the photos ante pictured next to each other. Jefferson’s rotunda houses the library.
Thomas Jefferson was a wine enthusiast and he had two vineyards at
Monticello. However, “the successful cultivation of Vitis vinifera, the classic European wine species, was virtually impossible until the development of modern pesticides controlled such destructive pests as black rot and phyloxera, an aphid-like root louse.”
“The Southwest Vineyard was replanted in 1993 entirely with the Sangiovese grape, a variety documented by Jefferson in 1807 and the principal ingredient of Chianti in Tuscany. There is an annual Wine Festival at Monticello in May. Several vintages have been made with harvests from this vineyard which are sold from the Monticello Museum Shops. Gabriele Rausse, one of the founders of the modern Virginia grape industry, oversees the production of wine as well as the care of the restored vineyards, which continue to serve as experimental gardens of unusual varieties of vinifera.”
In Washington, D.C. you can visit the Thomas Jefferson Building in the Library of Congress.
For more information about Monticello’s wine production visit: http://www.monticello.org/site/house-and-gardens/vineyards
Dr. EveAnn Lovero writes Travel Guides @ www.vino-con-vista.com