The real reason Thomas Jefferson struggled to make wine was because Vitis Vinifera (the wine making strain of grapes) couldn’t grow on the East Coast until hybrids were formed!
The estate has now been owned by the Italian Zonin family for almost 50 years, since 1976. Although you are in Founding Fathers territory, you can certainly feel their Italian influence. As the restaurant is closed on Mondays and because they had a wheel of Parmigiano left over, the staff at Barboursville invited us to join them for dinner, which was quite simply, and yet magnificently, pasta cooked in the wheel of Parmigiano! It might have been the family style dinner we had, the Nebbiolo I was drinking or the fact that I was sitting next to Deniele (the Italian assistant winemaker), but there is a (Italian) family feeling to Barboursville. Many of the staff members live on site or close by, which is part of the charm of this beautiful Virginian estate!
Thomas Jefferson even designed James Barbour's former residence, which unfortunately burnt down on Christmas Day 1884. The ruins are well preserved at Barboursville as a tourist attraction today.