An Afternoon at Monticello

Sunday, 13 June 1999
Monticello Vineyards
Napa Valley

GBACG presented its first ever 18th century event set in the American colonies on Saturday, June 13, 1999. We traveled to Monticello, the beautiful home designed by our third president, Thomas Jefferson. Unfortunately, our journey did not take us to Virginia -- instead we had a charming substitute in the Napa Valley. The name and architecture of Monticello Vineyards near Yountville was inspired by Thomas Jefferson, a fervent wine enthusiast. The vineyard contains a likeness of Mr. Jefferson's Virginia estate.

Jay Corley began searching in 1969 for an appropriate site to grow wine grapes and quickly recognized that the best wines in the United States were made from grapes grown in Napa Valley. Because of his personal interest in Burgundian-style wines Jay chose to initially focus on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and therefore acquired land in the Oak Knoll area of Napa Valley, just north of the town of Napa. With it's cooler temperatures, the Oak Knoll area is ideal for growing these varietals. Because of Jay Corley's special interest in Thomas Jefferson and in recognition of Jefferson's contributions to American wine and food, Monticello's "Jefferson House" was patterned after Thomas Jefferson's Estate in Virginia. The "Jefferson House" includes offices, a culinary center, dining room and other hospitality areas for special visitors and stands as a symbol of excellence of the Monticello Estate.

Our Afternoon at Monticello began with a tour of the house, a smaller reproduction of Jefferson's home. The house is furnished with reproduction wallpaper, furniture, and decorations. Miss Denise Lorraine in the library which is, of course, filled with books on wine making and architecture.

The formal gardens on each side of the house were a perfect setting for us. Jefferson personally oversaw much of the work at Monticello. He interested himself in both the architecture and landscape gardening. At Monticello Vineyards, there is a charming petite rose garden on each side of the house.
We enjoyed a private wine-tasting and each received a complimentary wine glass. The picnic area had tables and benches and was deeply shaded (Napa Valley summers are warm -- the grapes need lots of sunshine and warm temperatures). We unpacked our picnic lunched, bought bottles of Monticello wine, and took numerous photographs. 

Miss Kathleen Crowley and Miss Alise Martinez pose at the entrance to Monticello.

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