When you visit Charlottesville, it is impossible not to see the lasting influence Thomas Jefferson has had over the city. Many people associate Charlottesville with the University of Virginia, which was actually founded by and originally designed by Jefferson. Jefferson was a self-taught architect and octagons or octagonal forms are typical in Jeffersonian architecture. These design characteristics were used in designing and building Jefferson’s home, Monticello. If the mansion looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it a lot without realizing… on the back of a nickel!
Billy and I took a tour of the mansion (no photos allowed, sorry!). It was very informative about Jefferson’s daily life as well as his relationship with other American Founding Fathers. The property has been restored very well and it is both a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We also did some strolling around the grounds to see the gardens and the Monticello cemetery, which is where Jefferson is buried.
Another example of Jeffersonian architecture is Barboursville. Barboursville was the home of James Barbour, who was a friend and political ally of Jefferson. The mansion was burned in 1884, but the ruins can still be reached by visitors of Barboursville Vineyards. Besides architecture, Jefferson was also quite the wine enthusiast. His household is rumored to have consumed 400 bottles a year. He dreamed of producing high quality wines in Virginia, but was never able to see it come to fruition. Barbours’ estate, however, including the mansion Jefferson designed, is now home to Barboursville Vineyards, one of the leading wineries in Virginia.
At Barboursville Vineyards, a $7 tasting will get you samples of 21 different wines. If that isn’t enough, there are additional options in the Library. Barboursville Vineyards’ pride and joy is the Octagon, paying homage to Jefferson’s favorite shape! We stopped in the Library to try a flight of Octagon from different vintages. It was cool to see how some years tasted similar and others were vastly different. Something us non-wine connoisseurs don’t get to try very often!
Monticello: 931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Barboursville Vineyards: 17655 Winery Rd, Barboursville, VA 22923