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Mazzei Philip

Born in Tuscany, Filippo, later Philip Mazzei (1730-1816) studied medicine in Florence. After his move to London he met Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) and the later senator Thomas Adams (1730-1788) there, who awakened his enthusiasm for the USA. In 1773, he led a group of immigrant Italians who introduced the cultivation of wine, olives and fruit to the present US state of Virginia. Among them was Anthony Giannini (1747-1824), the later estate manager of US President Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) on his estate Monticello. Mazzei became a neighbor and friend of Jefferson, who gave him 193 acres of land on the south side of Monticello; another 700 acres were bought by Mazzei. He named his property "Colle" (hills) and engaged in experimental agriculture. They both planted the first commercial vineyards in Virginia and experimented with foreign and native vines. Among other things, Mazzei produced a "colonial style" wine from the wild vine species Vitis vulpina, which grows in large quantities in the woods on the trees there. He can therefore be considered a US wine growing pioneer. During the American Revolution (1775-1783), Mazzei acted as an intermediary for the purchase of weapons. In 1788 he published a political history of the American Revolution. He died after returning to his homeland in Pisa.

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