View Full Version : An American (mostly) Grape - Norton

06-02-2008, 22:18
This discussion started on another thread about internet wine sales..that turned into Midwest wines....to continue...re non-CA, WA or OR wines.....the Norton grape (also known as Cynthiana) is the one most likely to succeed in the market coming from midwest and eastern wineries...especially MO & VA.


September 3 2007
The Cabernet of the Ozarks

From Appellation America:

"Norton, also known as Cynthiana, is the oldest native North American varietal in commercial cultivation today. The cultivar belongs to the aestivalis species of vine, which by American wine standards is ancient. As early as 1770 renowned Philadelphian botanist John Bartram made note in his horticultural journals of a native vine type that was popular amongst mid-Atlantic colonist who domesticated it for its usefulness in winemaking – the cited vine type is now reasonably believed to be Vitis aestivalis, and is quite likely the antecedent to the variety we know today as Norton.

As Norton, the variety typically produces rich deeply pigmented wines with spicy, raspberry-scented aromas, hints of coffee and bittersweet chocolate, good aging potential, and little ‘native’ character."



"...The Norton grape produces a rich, dry red table wine..."
"...The grape was tried but did not bear well in California..."
"In Virginia, the grape has a dedicated -- almost cult-like -- following of winemakers and consumers. However, despite the high quality of the wine and its highly marketable all-American image, Norton’s fame has been slow to spread to all corners of the continent. Perhaps the greatest hindrance to Norton’s wider recognition, aside from prohibitive shipping laws which have restricted the wines distribution, is the challenge it presents to grape vine growers.

However, if you are looking for the next hot red wine? A vigorous Norton cult grape seems to be taking root across the nation in an effort to gain title to this spot. The grape is Norton, Vitis aestivalis, a nongrafted vine that is largely disease-free. It's one of some two dozen grape species native to North America, and stands out as one of the few that are capable of developing enough sugar to produce solid traditional wine. The blue-black grape berries bloom and ripen late, and produce a full-bodied dry red wine."


Norton vs. European Red Grapes

"...Don't expect, however, that wine made from the Norton grape will be anything like the red wines you are accustomed to. You won't mistake it for Cabernet or Grenache or Zinfandel. The closest European grape to the Norton is probably the Durif, or Petite Sirah. Norton wine redefines full-body. It is exceedingly mouth-filling and richly flavored..."

"...We thought the Stone Hill Norton edged out the Augusta and was clearly the best midwestern red wine we had ever tasted. The Augusta was almost as fine and almost half the price, so we highly recommend it..."
2007 National Norton Competition results

> It has been several years, but I personally have tasted a Stone Hill and a Chrysalis Norton...I recall them being good red wines.

06-02-2008, 22:24
VA is also famous for making excellent Viognier...

06-03-2008, 04:24
Virginia struggles with most wines but I do find that Horton Vineyards does a very nice job with the Norton grape for a respectable price. Worth a try if you see it on the shelf.

06-03-2008, 06:51
I think Horton really pioneered alot of the VA wine varieties and they get pretty good reviews.

06-07-2008, 14:49
Little is it known, but Arkansas has four wineries. All in the Altus area. I personally prefer the AR Cynthiana wines to the MO ones that I've tried. I took four bottles to the sampler with me, and I think the Wiedeker's cynthiana was the first wine to disappear. I don't know if it's available outside AR however. In fact, some of them (like Mount Bethel) are hard to find in Arkansas.