Early Wine Cellar found in Jamestown

Archaeologists working at the site of America’s first permanent English settlement, Jamestown, have unearthed a brick-lined wine cellar containing bottles dating back as far as 1680.

This is another indication of the role alcoholic beverages have played throughout American history.

The Pilgrims brought more beer than water with them as they sailed for the New World. And the first Thanksgiving feast was enjoyed with beer, brandy, rum and wine. Later, distilling rum became the largest and most prosperous industry in New England.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence in a tavern in Philadelphia. With the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, the Colonial Army supplied its troops with a daily ration of four ounces of either rum or whiskey.

After the Revolution, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson all enjoyed brewing or distilling their own alcohol beverages. George Washington became one of the new country’s largest whiskey distillers.

And before the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln held a liquor license and operated several taverns.

Alcoholic beverages have always been an important part of American life and culture, as the failed experiment of National Prohibition (1929-1933) proved.


  • Jamestown researchers find wine cellar. The Washington Post, July 17, 2004, B3.

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