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The Thomas Jefferson Auditorium


But why does the Thomas Jefferson Auditorium, which hosts La Cité du Vin’s cultural programme all year round, bear the name of America’s illustrious third president? Let us explain!

Thomas Jefferson, French wine fan

Elected the USA’s third president in 1801, Thomas Jefferson viewed France as his second home: he spent five years there as a plenipotentiary minister from 1784 to 1789. As well as being a well-read scientist, architect and gourmet, he was also an expert in viticulture. He was deeply moved by tales of soldiers from the American Revolutionary War, and he realised that alcohol was a plague: whisky and rum were the drinks that ruled supreme in the USA. To him, like the other Founding Fathers of the American democracy, developing a wine industry in the USA represented an opportunity to both combat alcoholism and also create a strong economic sector able to sustain numerous small, independent winemakers. In 1787 he embarked upon a grand tour across the winemaking regions of France and Europe: Burgundy, Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône, Provence, Languedoc, Gaillac, Bordeaux, then Champagne the following year. He was interested in production structure, relationships between owners, winegrowers and merchants, and the living conditions of agricultural workers.

Upon being elected President, he was one of the first people to promote French wine regions and estates in America, helping to boost the reputation of French winegrowing across the world.

It was therefore an obvious choice for the Fondation pour la Culture et les Civilisations du Vin to pay tribute to Thomas Jefferson by naming the auditorium after him. His support was vital for French wine’s reputation, and there is still an enduring Franco-American friendship based on a love of wine.

Thomas Jefferson Auditorium, pairing culture with patronage

Today, the Thomas Jefferson Auditorium is La Cité du Vin’s iconic performance hall. It was partly funded by donations from American patrons collected by the American Friends of La Cité du Vin, a twin structure of the Fondation pour la Culture et les Civilisations du Vin which works to boost awareness of La Cité du Vin in the USA. Its work now brings sparkle to the Thomas Jefferson Auditorium, which hosts shows, conferences, debates and encounters focusing on wine cultures and civilisations all year round. For this reason, American patrons were given the opportunity to adopt a chair in the auditorium and have their name displayed on it. Major donors were granted the title of Ministers of Monticello, the name of the former President’s own wine estate in Virginia.

This new performance hall in Bordeaux offers a very special atmosphere and is an unmissable cultural venue.

Now that you have entered the Thomas Jefferson Auditorium, its history no longer holds any mysteries for you...!