Some of the bottles discovered are over-200-years-old.
A bottle of Madeira wine from 1796 was found in unmarked crates deep in the cellar.
“Well, there’s a good shot if you open this up could still enjoy it today,” Bill Schroh with the Liberty Hall Museum said. “These are Colonial times in America, so to get anything decent you had to ship it from Europe. And Madeira travels well. It’s easy to bring across the ocean, and it was a favorite of people of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, the folks that lived here. The Livingstons and Keans–it was very popular at their tables.”
The cellar was underneath the former home of New Jersey’s first governor, William Livingston.
He built this estate as a country home before the revolutionary war. Today it’s a museum.
All the wine was hidden inside the cage. It was probably boarded up around the Prohibition Era. It was only when museum staff ripped off wood boards, that they made these discoveries.
Schroh said, “And when we opened up the wine cellar and started going through all the bottles, and cleaning off all the dust and opening up all the cases. That’s when we uncovered these unique finds.”
Along with the rare Madeira wines, they also found bourbon bottled in the spring of 1884, American whiskey made in 1871.
And if you don’t drink, case-after-case of Cuban cigars safely preserved inside a humidor.
When he was asked if there were any plans to drink the fine wines, Schroh laughed, “Not to my knowledge.”
Unfortunately, no tasting is allowed. But the wine cellar and the home is now open to the public for tours.
Descendants of the original owner, the Kean family, turned over the keys in 1995 to create Liberty Hall Museum at Kean University.
“They turned off lights locked the doors and gave us the keys and an American experience of 240 years of stuff that’s just been amazing, continued finds like wines,” Schroh said.
The Liberty House Museum at Kean University plans to explore Alexander Hamilton’s room next. He stayed in the 50-room house for 6-months when he first settled in America.
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