An investigation like no other, Eastbound Westbound lets the viewer understand how this Franco-American friendship around Bordeaux wines had its starting point in the 18th century around the greatest connoisseur of fine wines and lover of Bordeaux, the American Thomas Jefferson, US Ambassador to Paris and third President of the United States.
A man of culture, science, philosophy, the spirit of the Enlightenment, one of the “5 founding fathers” of the young American nation, he was also United States ambassador to Paris before taking up residence in The White House as the third President of the United States. His short stay in Bordeaux in 1787 - including his famous visit to Château Haut-Brion on May 25, 1787 - was to have repercussions for centuries to come.
In his passion for France and the fine wines of Bordeaux, was Thomas Jefferson influenced by other Americans? What did he find so special about Bordeaux wines? What remains of his heritage today and what benefits do Bordeaux wines still derive from it today in their commercial relationship with the United States? Who are his spiritual heirs?
At the end of the 18th century, this market - compared with others - was still in its infancy. Thomas Jefferson - who had arrived in Paris in 1785 to work on diplomatic relations with France - arrived in Bordeaux from the south, after a long journey through the Italian vineyards and those of south-east France. What he discovered in Bordeaux would enchant him: a prosperous vineyard with wines that already enjoyed a certain reputation, a city bustling with business, and finally a “port of the Moon” that was buzzing, after centuries of trade with England, the Netherlands, some Scandinavian nations, and the Lesser An-tilles in the Caribbean.
Apart from his work as a diplomat, Thomas Jefferson would also become a fervent ambassador for Bordeaux wines. The future 3rd President of the United States was to become a major influencer in drawing attention to the fine wines of Bordeaux. He succeeded in imposing them, not without diplomacy, on the American continent, within his political circle and, finally, in The White House itself.
Nothing more was needed for Bordeaux to become fashionable in the United States, among insiders as well as among admirers of a certain idea of France, its revolutionary character and its spirit of the Enlightenment, held in high esteem by Jefferson.
A new page was then written in the history of the Bordeaux wine trade, facilitated by Jefferson’s active recommendations and his political projects to abolish taxes to promote free trade between France and the United States.
Today, many Bordeaux and Californian wine trade players - feeling that they are the legitimate heirs of this Franco- American cultural and viticultural friendship - fervently cherish the memory of Thomas Jefferson, following in his footsteps, perpetuating and passing on his heritage, generation after generation.
As part of this investigation, a more contemporary section of the documentary features charismatic wine-producing families, including three Bordeaux families driven by a constant spirit of entrepreneurship, having decided to take risks to taste the “California Dream”. Other well-known American names have taken the opposite path by investing in the Bordeaux vineyard, the true epicenter - in reputation as well as in know-how - of world viticulture.
To link the investigation between the past and the present, the documentary addresses cross-cutting and complementary themes between the families and the locations where the action takes place: