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Thomas Jefferson – America’s Premier Wine Connoisseur

Saturday, April 7th
2:00 – 4:00 pm
with instructor Sam Wai

Register Here

Thomas Jefferson was arguably the most complex—and interesting—of our founding fathers.  Besides representing Virginia at the Continental Congress and authoring the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was Governor of Virginia, the Second Vice-President and the Third President of the United States.  He also managed to find the time to master many disciplines, from surveying and mathematics to horticulture and mechanics.  A man of searching intellect, curiosity and discerning taste, it isn’t surprising that he also undoubtedly was America’s first wine connoisseur!

Jefferson considered fine wine indispensable, stating famously that, “Good wine is a necessity of life for me.”   Prior to the revolution, he partnered with an Italian vintner and began planting vineyards at his Monticello estate.  Unfortunately, most of the vines were destroyed by disease, and then the call of duty to our fledgling nation demanded all of his attention.  However, after the war as America’s Minister to France, in 1785 he was able to finagle an official three-month tour of Southern France and Northern Italy, opening his eyes (and palate) to the finer side of wine.  He was amazed at the centuries-old traditions of wine making found in Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhone and Piedmont regions, and the subtlety and complexity of the wines he tasted.  Jefferson was among the first Americans to import wine to our country, and his discerning taste—coupled with his incredible insight—opened new vistas in the appreciation of fine wines and can truly give him a place as the founding father of wine connoisseurship in the United States!

Join us at The Arts Center on Saturday, April 7th, as we celebrate the life of Thomas Jefferson and explore his interest in viniculture and wine.  Participants will sample four wines, inspired by Jefferson’s personal preferences, the colonial period and his attempts at viniculture, paired with theme appropriate cheeses, all topped off with a sumptuous dessert.

Our evenings guide, Sam Wai, has lived in the Fargo/Moorhead community since 1972.  He retired in 2015 from American Crystal Sugar Company, where he spent most of his 37-year tenure as company’s treasurer.  Sam has taught wine courses for over 25 years and currently offers them through the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County. In retirement, apart from traveling and teaching wine courses, Sam is an avid volunteer and fundraiser for the arts and charities doing wine events.  Sam also leads wine tours to Greece in the fall.  His wine courses are unique that they emphasize history and culture as part of the broader context.