Thomas Jefferson Papers

John Adlum to Thomas Jefferson, 13 March 1810

From John Adlum

Wilton farm March 13th 1810


With this days mail I send you a number of cuttings of the vines from which I made the wine I had the honor of sending you by Mr Christie.

I also enclose a bottle of the wine, made last season

There is one peculiarity1 in those vines different from any I am acquainted with, They will not bear pruning in the same manner that foreign vines do. When I had them first cultivated, my Gardner, (when the grapes were set and about the size of swan shot) cut the vine at the joint or bud beyond the last bunch of grapes, which he informed me was the manner of trimming the fruit bearing vines in Europe, that the nourishment might go into the grapes, But the last bud immediately put out a new shoot, blossomed and bore grapes, these he2 cut in the same manner as the first, and the bud3 again put out a new shoot, blossomed and the fruit set, so that there was at the same time, ripe grapes, full grown green grapes, and the last about the size of swan shot. The ground they were planted in was well manured, and frequently watered while the grapes were4 growing—But since that discovery I do not suffer the vines to be trimed in the manner mentioned. These grapes grow much larger and ripen much better when they are suffered to hang in the shade of their own leaves, than when tied to strait sticks, they then are frequently scorched by the sun, and then they never ripen well afterwards.

Mr Gale who lives a few miles from me got a number of cuttings from me, and trains them in the manner mentioned by Forsyth5 in his book on fruit trees, and it is astonishing to see with what strength the shoots grow but he has not yet made any wine from them. It is his opinion that they ought to be planted a rod apart (that is) 16½ feet.

I shall be glad to hear of your receiving the cuttings safe. Also your opinion of the wine.

I have been some days later forwarding you the cuttings than I intended, owing to the indisposition of my family. But if no accident happens [to]6 them by the way and you have them well watered I have no doubt of their succeeding.

I am Sir Very respectfully Your most Obedt Servt

John Adlum

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The Honble Thomas Jefferson Monticello Virginia”; endorsed by TJ as received 18 Mar. 1810 and so recorded in SJL.

A year after the death of former congressman George gale, who lived near Adlum in Cecil County, Maryland, his son supplied TJ with grape cuttings at Adlum’s request (Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774–1989, 1989 description ends ; Levin Gale to TJ, 30 Mar. 1816).

1Word interlined in place of “particularity.”

2Manuscript: “he he.”

3Manuscript: “but.”

4Manuscript: “wer.”

5Preceding two words interlined.

6Omitted word editorially supplied.

Index Entries

  • Adlum, John; and wine search
  • Adlum, John; letters from search
  • A Treatise on the Culture and Management of Fruit Trees: in which A New Method of Pruning and Training is Fully Described (Forsyth) search
  • Christie, Gabriel search
  • Forsyth, William; A Treatise on the Culture and Management of Fruit Trees; in which A New Method of Pruning and Training is Fully Described search
  • Gale, George search
  • Gale, Levin; and viticulture search
  • grapes; vine cuttings search
  • sun; grapes scorched by search
  • wine; sent to TJ search