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Passions : The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson Hardcover – September 12, 1995

4.7 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"'Passions: The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson' is an accountof the adventures of the third President of the United States along the oenological trail both in this country and abroad.... The book goes well beyond being a dry--if you will pardon the term--recitalof facts to become a throughly engaging account of the human side of one of the most famous Americans" -- Herbert Kupferberg, Parade magazine, April28, 1998

"It is a must read for those interested in Jefferson's wine trips throughout Europe, primarily France. Jefferson's erudite and perceptive wine comments are remarkable.... His observations are hauntingly accurate and could have been written today. I highly recommend this book..." -- Posted 10/09/1995 by Robert M. Parker Jr. on Prodigy interactive personal service

"That experience only increases my awe of the rich historical tapestry assembled by Gabler in this superbly crafted book. Any wine love with the faintest glimmer of interest in history should read it." -- Wine Spectator Dec 11,1995

From the Author

I'm often asked, "What caused you to write this book?" Long before I set out to write Passions I had become a wine enthusiast, and for some reason that I still don't understand, I decided to find out what our Founding Fathers drank. Before I had scratched the proverbial research surface, Thomas Jefferson's consuming interests in wine jumped out. This was in early 1991 and there was only one book extant about Jefferson's wine interests. It was a series of essays, some good and some not so good, and all without any chronology. 
Because I had a busy law practice at the time, and had recently married, I hesitated before plunging head first into four years of research and writing on weekends, mornings, evenings, and vacations. In fact, ten days of my honeymoon were spent following Jefferson's travels through southern France and over the Alps into Italy. On beautiful spring, summer and autum days, knowing that my friends were playing golf, tennis, sight seeing, sailing, and enjoying myriad other pursuits, I often wondered whether it would be worth it. Was it? Yes, definitely!
Almost as a lark I entered Passions in the Veuve Clicquot Wine Book of the Year contest, and to my great but pleasant surprise it won the prize - being judged the best wine book in English published in 1995. Wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. also awarded Passions "Best Wine Book of the Year." It went on to receive acclaim in the news media throughout the United States including The New York Times, Wine Spectator, and Parade Magazine.
An extra author bonus I have enjoyed has been being invited as a guest speaker on Jefferson and wine at hundreds of institutions and clubs throughout the United States including Monticello, Smithsonian Institution Museum of American History, and Winterthur.
Passions: The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson is available in hardcover from Amazon.com.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Bacchus Press; 1st edition (September 12, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0961352531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0961352530
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 7.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Keith Levenberg on May 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The preface to Passions quotes John F. Kennedy's toast to a group of Nobel laureates that "this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever gathered together in the White House -- with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." James Gabler's unusual biography pays tribute to Jefferson's palate as well as his mind. Certain to succor the most serious oenophiles, it contains encyclopedic data on Jefferson's cellar and interesting trivia on the era's wines, many of which were far more distant in evolution from their modern incarnations than is often supposed. Moreover, by documenting the passion with which Jefferson devoured the world's great wines, Gabler offers an engaging perspective on the genius Jefferson manifested in all of his pursuits.
Passions depicts Jefferson at leisure and does not emphasize his career as statesman except when necessary to develop the narrative. Nor does it address the controversy over Jefferson's moral character ignited by his complicity in slavery, a pointless debate which lamentably fixates modern revisionists. But despite its limited scope, in offering a more vivid account of Jefferson the man, Gabler's research probes certain mysteries about Jefferson's public life, particularly the question why, following his legendary work as a founding father of the nation, his Presidency was less successful. Gabler's Jefferson is a loner whose widowing as a young man left him heartbroken and somewhat estranged from the nation he sired. He sought comfort in a sort of exile across Europe, never quite establishing a home but immersing himself in the best of what its cultures offered.
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Format: Hardcover
Author Jim Gabler does Jefferson wine evenings at Monticello on occasion. I have yet to catch him there, but not for trying. It is my understanding that he has a passionate hobby in the historical antecedents for wines and from this standpoint, this book succeeds remarkably. Extremely well documented - he has found items as obscure as the inventories of not only the wines Jefferson ordered during his travels, but sometimes the exact foods he ordered for specific evenings....(50 oysters and a half bottle of wine at the Amsterdam Arms...and repeated the feat the next night with a friend). There are maps, engravings, modern photographs, historical details.....a wonderful book detailing a great wine connoisseur's travels in search of the meticulous details of the art. And it's all laid out for you to enjoy or replicate as you may....or imagine what it would be like to travel, explore, dine, and taste as Jefferson or Gabler.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are interested in Thomas Jefferson's interest in wine and viticulture, this is the book to get. The research if thorough and interesting to read. His wine interest is so much part of his travels in Europe that the subjects are aptly combined here. I highly recommend it for those interested in wine and for those interested in Jefferson beyond his career as a statesman and Founding Father. This book will contribute greatly to the complete portrait. It is the best book on this subject.
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Format: Hardcover
This book recounts Jefferson's travels and passions for wine. It is a fact that many of his favorites are still famous today. (Hermitage La Chappelle, Yquem, Lafite) Seeing these names through his eyes is fascinating, and reading about his difficulty with storage and shipping sounds all too familiar. The book gets off to a very slow start; too much statistical detail on each dinner. But it gradually becomes absorbing, and charming. A quaint historical document.
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Format: Hardcover
Passions: The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson by James M. Gabler is a delightful book. If you think you know Thomas Jefferson guess again. The 18th century revolutionary also was the nation's foremost expert on wine.

Gabler follows the travels of Jefferson through France and Italy when Jefferson was in his early 40s. Every wine Jefferson ever drank is listed in this book, as was the commentary on how he traveled and what he saw during that era.

I bought the book at the Beringer vineyard's gift shop, and found it an enchanting companion as I traveled through the Napa Valley on my own wine tour. Jefferson's palate was impeccable, and you can truly taste his joy and curiosity.

You'll learn all about the life of the people of Italy and France, how well he related to ordinary farmers and wine growers, and his close friendships with wine merchants worldwide.

There was something charming and civilized about this book, the perfect glimpse into the inner life of Jefferson. I found his delight and passion for fine wines endearing. Buy the book, take a leisurely trip through Northern California's wine country, and drink in the tradition of 18th century intellectual virtuosity. You won't be disappointed, and you'll learn a lot about wine in the process from one of the world's most imaginative people.
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Format: Hardcover
To the Jefferson buff and wine fanatic, this book is a rare treat. I ordered it after spending a long weekend touring the Virginia wine country and Jefferson's Monticello. What an interesting read - meticulously researched and well-written, the author is commended for taking a potential dry subject and bringing it to full-fruited life. A must for any Jefferson fan's library.
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