Homewood House Museum
Homewood House Museum will strike the perfect balance between libations and learning at its 10th annual "Evening of Traditional Beverages: Wine and Conversation with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson," at 6 p.m., on Friday, May 19.
The event will be held on the lawn of Homewood House, 3400 N. Charles St. in Baltimore (rain location is Levering Union's Glass Pavilion) Admission is $20 for Homewood members and $25 for non-members. Due to the popularity of the event, reservations are required. Parking is available around the circle in front of the museum. Call (410) 516-5589 for information and reservations.
Andy Bienstock, WYPR-FM's program director, jazz guru and host of "The Signal," will serve as the emcee for the evening, which combines sophisticated historical content with a cocktail party. Wine historian James M. Gabler, award-winning author of Passions: The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson and inaugural Traditional Beverages speaker in 1996, will recount tales from his most recent book, An Evening with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson: Dinner, Wine, and Conversation, in which the narrator is transported back to 18th century Paris to enjoy a leisurely dinner with founding fathers Franklin and Jefferson (both of whom were resident in Paris at the time).
Franklin and Jefferson were men of cultured tastes and connoisseurs of fine wine. As a Virginia farmer, Jefferson had the notion that America should become a country of wine drinkers, writing, "We could, in the United States, make as great a variety of wines as are made in Europe, not exactly of the same kinds, but doubtless as good." He learned everything he could about the process to accomplish that goal, touring the wine-producing areas of Germany, Italy and France and buying vines to be sent back and planted at his plantation, Monticello, marking the beginning of the commercial wine industry in the colonies.
At the event at Homewood House, Gabler will focus on the historical context of wine through an imagined conversation between Jefferson and Franklin, based on their own words. He will explore issues of both their time and ours, including the terrorist attacks of 9/11, which he compares to Jefferson's experience while president in dealing with the Barbary pirate states, a constant threat to early American shipping. Gabler will also discuss whether Jefferson actually owned a bottle of 1787 ChÉteau Lafite — engraved with the initials "Th. J." and sold at auction by Christie's for $156,450 (the world's most expensive bottle of wine) — which was rumored to be his.
Hors d'oeuvres and wines will be served, and Gabler will lead guests in a comparative tasting of two Chardonnays, pitting Virginia against France. He will also be available to sign his new book.
Homewood House Museum, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University, is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tours of the Museum are offered every half hour with the last tour beginning at 3:30 p.m. Museum admission is $6 for adults, $3 for students and children over 6 years of age, and $5 for seniors. Call (410) 516-5589 or visit www.jhu.edu/historichouses for additional information.
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