USA Today

One More Unalienable Right: Wine

Jerry Shriver
November 4, 2005

Thomas Jefferson probably didn’t utter the words “life, liberty and the pursuit of fine cabernet,” but he lived them. That’s the underlying theme of the new documentary, The Cultivated Life: Thomas Jefferson and Wine, airing on PBS this month (check local listings).

Most Americans “have no idea he was often referred to as the founding father of American viticulture,” says executive producer and director John Harrington. “The pursuit of fine wine and wine culture was second only to his pursuit of liberty.”

The film, narrated by Hal Holbrook, shows how Jefferson became obsessed with wine while living in Europe and dreamed of starting a wine culture in America that would lend refinement to everyday living. An interview with pioneering California vinter robert Mondavi shows how that dream came true — 150 years later.

A longer, 80 minute version of the The Cultivated Life is available on DVD from $19.95 from


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