When New Jersey’s first governor, William Livingston, drank his wine, he did it in style. And now we have proof that the vintages he enjoyed were topnotch. The remarkable wine collection was found behind the wall of a New Jersey museum that was once the home of Governor Livingston. Some of the bottles are as old as America itself. Continue reading to learn more about this amazing wine collection and what the Liberty Hall Museum plans to do with the massive collection.
Governor William Livingston served the state of New Jersey from 1776 to 1790. And his wine collection was hidden in plain sight behind a wall in the Liberty Hall Museum.
When director of the museum operations found the stash of spirits, he was overwhelmed.
“It was an ‘oh my God’ moment,” Bill Schroh the operations director at Liberty Hall Museum at Kean University, told WCBS.
The wine collection was found during a six-month renovation of the history building. The construction crew found three cases of Madeira wine that likely dates back in 1796.
Besides that historic find, they unveiled 42 demijohns that were cased in wicker that dates back to the 1820s.
This wine cellar houses some of the oldest bottles of wine in the country.
“It’s a very large historic house museum originally from 1770 and over the last five to six years we decided to take the house room by room and make repairs and update and evaluate a lot of the structures,” Schroh told ABC News. “We decided to restore the wine cellar, which hadn’t been looked over since 1949 and we never could have imagined finding what we did.”
Schroh’s team discovered the wine in old wooden crates as they were covered in dust. The wine collection appears to have been shipped to John Kean who lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Schroh was amazed at what he discovered right from under his nose at the museum.
“It turned out there were three crates of it and inside were bottles labeled ‘Robert Lenox of Philadelphia 1796,’ when they were first bottled,” Schroh added. “The wine had been re-bottled once it came over to America… we had to do the research, but luckily for us it was all there so we didn’t run against a dead end at all. We could go even further to find out about Lenox.”
The Rare Wine Co. tested the wine and confirmed its authenticity. Madeira was one of the most distinguished wines of the British Colony, Mannie Berk the wine company’s founder shared.
“By the time of the American Revolution, [Madeira] had become a fortified wine of compelling character, and it was this wine that achieved a place in American popular culture unique in its history,” Berk wrote.
After the renovations were completed, the wine and the original wooden crates were put on display at the museum – and they’re attracting a lot of visitors.
“We kept some of it in the antique wine cages, but it’s also on display cabinets along with racks and other displays inside the wine cellar. People can come, see it and learn about the history from Colonial times,” Schroh said.
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