Which two early U.S. presidents grew wine grapes?
A. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson
B. Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams
C. James Madison and James Monroe
D. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both planted vines and attempted to make wine in Virginia. George Washington saw great potential for wine cultivation in the Chesapeake region and imported cuttings of “Madeira grapes,” from the Portuguese island of Madeira. These cuttings were planted at his estate Mount Vernon in the spring of 1770. When the Madeira grapes failed, he began to experiment with native American grape varieties. In the years preceding the Revolutionary War, Washington planted 2,000 cuttings of local wild grape varieties but frosts in the region (and his eight years away at war) caused the second experiment to fail as well. Thomas Jefferson, with the help of Italian winemaker Filippo Mazzei planted 2,000 acres of Vitis vinifera vines adjacent to his home at Monticello in 1773. The Revolutionary War once again cut this viticultural project short, and the vines died due to neglect. Jefferson tried planting grapes again after the war was over, but they perished most likely because of phylloxera.
(Thank you to Mary Thompson, the Research Historian at Mount Vernon for her materials.)