When I discovered Virginia wine country about 10 years ago (I didn’t actually discover it, but discovered it for me), I was introduced to an abundance of grapes that I had never heard of at the time. Most were hybrids or other grapes not commonly grown in more popular American wine regions, such as California.
These grapes were intriguing to me because when we tasted them, it felt a bit like drinking exotic wine in my backyard. I felt as though I was learning so much about the beginnings of the American wine industry and its constant struggle for relevance and prestige.
Norton Grape Profile on Winetraveler.com
One of those “exotic” grapes was the French/American hybrid, Norton, which is referred to as the oldest American wine grape.
Norton was created in Richmond, Virginia in the early 19th century, but it was not until the 1960s that it came back to prevalence when Dennis Horton of Horton Vineyards began making commercially-viable wines from Norton. Now, it is the official state grape of Missouri and still synonymous with the Virginia wine industry. In fact, the largest Norton plantings in the world are in Virginia near Middleburg at Chrysalis Vineyards.
While many people have not yet tried Norton, it’s a grape that is definitely part of our American history in the industry. It can be made in a range of styles from a Port-style dessert wine, to a dry single varietal, and even sparkling.
In my latest grape profile for Winetraveler.com, learn more about Norton and where you can find wines made from this grape.