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I'm interested in trying some other American wines outside of the West coast, NY state ones that I'm most familiar with. Anywone had some truely good Norton from Missouri? Or any great stuff from Virginia? I've heard these two places have good potential but I'm wondering if anyopne is living up to it yet.

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  1. Norton (or Cynthiana) can be very good. (It's also grown in Arkansas, BTW. ) It's not for everyone -- a lot of my friends hate it -- but I've had very good ones from Stone Hill in Missouri and good ones from Horton in Virginia.

    1 Reply
    1. re: zin1953

      I've had a Stone Hill Norton a few times and always enjoyed it.

    2. What varietal is Norton?

      In NY, where I live, there are a number of wineries making very good wine, though they're not super cheap. For example, Paumanouk Winery makes a red blend named Assemblage that is outstanding, but it's $42. Less pricey is Osprey's Dominion Cabernet Franc, at around $20, and Schneider's Cab Franc at about $28.

      5 Replies
      1. re: 280 Ninth

        Most wine grapes worldwide are considered "European" varieties. Cultivars such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir -- all the grapes most people drink -- are all members of the same species, Vitis vinifera. What are often described as "native North American" varieties -- grapes like Concord, Delaware, Catabwa -- are V. labrusca. Norton (or Cynthiana) is from a different species entirely, V. aestivalis.

        To the best of my knowledge, there is no Norton/Cynthiana grown in New York State, nor in California for that matter. (It would be interesting to see what it does here, though.) As I mentioned above, it's mostly found in Missouri and Virginia, but it's also in a number of other states, from the Rockies to the Atlantic Coast.

        See http://wine.appellationamerica.com/gr... for more information, and scroll down a bit . . .

        1. re: zin1953

          I'm moving to VA and on a trip to Norfolk, it was the Virginia Wine Festival, back in october, I think. i wasn't expecting much, but was pleasantly surprised.

          We got a little education on Norton. It's a grape that is native to North America, just like the Concord and grows well in soil specific to VA and, apparently, MO. I also recall something about it being related in someway to Primitivo in Italy, but I can't recall exactly how?

          1. re: geg5150

            Norton is indeed a grape native to North American, BUT . . .

            -- it belongs to the genu and species, Vitis aestivalis.

            it is not "just like the Concord . . .

            -- which belongs to the genus and species, Vitis labrusca.

            nor is it related in any way, shape or form to the grape called Primitivo in Italy . . .

            -- which belongs to the genius and species Vitis vinifera.

            THREE different varieties of grapes, from three different species -- all belong to the same genus, but there is no additional biological, genetic or other "connecting," "over-lapping," or "common" factors.

            1. re: zin1953

              I meant "just like the Concord" grape is native to N. America, not that they are the same grape.

              Thanks for all of the information.

        2. re: 280 Ninth

          re: 280 Ninth
          In the not too distant past I was a resident of eastern LI preceding the growth of the wine industry there. While there may be a few good products at the very high end, I was not happy with any I had in local restaurants or at the tasteings held at the various vineyards. Starting with Hargrave whose product was acceptable but over priced I have tried most of the products of that area and not found any one that cries out to me and certainly not at the price when purchased at a local restaurant. I must give credit to one particular waterfront restaurant who deleted the charge but you can trust that is not a common courtesy. Love the east end but not for the wine.

        3. Almost any Norton from the wineries in Hermann, MO are pretty good. Stone Hill is my favorite, but Hermanhoff's is good too.

          1. Let me just chime in with my vote for Adam Puchta's Norton. Harder to find, somewhat, but very nice.

            1. My Norton Favorite has to be Stone Hill Winery. This years vintage, 2003, is very bold and flavorable. A taste of blackberry, black pepper, and a nice finish. I also like their vintage 1998 Norton served at the Vintage 1847 Restaurant. They only sell it at the restaurant. It is very smooth and well aged. I've been to Stone Hill's 10 Year Norton Vertical Tasting and Dinner that follows. The Dinner at the Vintage 1847 Restaurant was to die for. Wines paired perfectly with the food. The Manager and Chef really know what they are doing.

              1. I'm also a big fan of Norton wine from Missouri. My colleague gave me a 2001 Stone Hill Norton a few months ago, and I swear it was as smooth and spicy as any high-caliber California red. I simply couldn't believe how good it was, and this is a big fan of Missouri wine talking!

                Now I'm planning to buy a case of the 2003 Stone Hill Norton and aging it for a few years to see if it tastes as good as the 2001 did. :)

                In fact, I like Missouri wine so much, I created MissouriWineCountry.com ( www.missouriwinecountry.com ). If you guys want to learn more about Missouri Nortons or any other wine from Missouri, please check it out. Missouri wineries are winning international acclaim again (as they did in the late 1800s), and it's an exciting time to be a part of the local Missouri wine industry.

                Also, don't tell anyone yet, but we plan to launch an annual national Norton festival this spring to draw in all the major national Norton producers. The venue is going to be stunning, and the event should help draw national attention to this wonderful wine. Stay tuned for more info!

                1. Good looking website. Keep us posted, I am a big fan of Missouri wines, and an even bigger fan of Missouri Norton.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: WyCo

                    Thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate it. :) I'll definitely keep you guys posted on our progress. We truly believe Missouri wines deserve national acclaim, and have an ambitious plan to aggressively promote Missouri wineries and wines regionally and then nationally. With wine consumption booming like it is across the country, and with the quality of Missouri wines improving every day, the timing has never been better.

                  2. Norton! Haven't had one since I worked for a small east coast winery . I found that the grape was quite temperamental, and really fluctuated from vintage to vintage. One year, you get these wild flavors, and the next just some basic hybrid flavors.Love to hear how the vineyards are doing.


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: amwf

                      Again -- not a hybrid . . . Norton, or Cynthiana, is a "purebred" variety (in the same way that Chardonnay or Zinfandel can be called a "purebred") of the genus-species Vitis aestivalis.

                      Hybrids -- especially in the wine world -- refer to the cross-species genetic "offspring" of V. vinifera and V. labrusca.

                      1. re: zin1953

                        re: hybrid.
                        Actually as I understand it, the origins of Norton are obscure, and Norton himself believed it to be a hybrid between labrusca (bland) and some aestivalis strain. I know some people don't believe this, because of its characteristics, but zin1953 if you have better inside knowledge, let us know what it is.

                        1. re: srb72


                          "It is highly likely that Norton is
                          an incidental cross, (originating in Virginia) of a Vitis Vinifera vine and a
                          native American vine, most likely from the species Vitis Cinerea."

                          "Data are consistent with 'Norton' being a hybrid with ancestry including V. aestivalis and V. vinifera."
                          "Investigations into the Origin of 'Norton' Grape using SSR Markers." 2009

                    2. In Missouri there are some wineries in Hermann that are working the Hybrids. Stone Hill made a hybrid of Chardonnay and call it Chardonnel. A cross between Chardonnay and Sevyal Grape. Also they are coming out with a new wine made from the Norton Grape. I think it was called a Norton Rose. I got to taste it on the Wine Trail in January. It was impressive.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Jyman

                        Small correction if I may . . .

                        Chardonel (one "n") is a French-American hybrid between Chardonnay (Vitis vinifiera) and Seyval Blanc, (aka Seyval), which itself is a cross between two other F-A hybrids, Seibel 5656 and Seibel 4986. Seyval is "officially" designated Seyve-Villard 5276, after the two Frenchmen who developed it, and was developed in France in the late 19th or early 20th century.

                        Chardonel was developed by Cornell University's Agricultural Research Station and released for use in 1991. Since then, Chardonel has been planted in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia . . . and Missouri. Many wineries produce Chardonel -- at least 25 in Missouri alone, in addition to Stone Hill.

                      2. We have a small vineyard and winery at Defiance, Missouri. We planted our first vineyard of Norton in 2005 and will harvest our first crop this year. We are aging some Norton we bought to try out. Yea, Norton is a great grape and makes even greater wine, but you have to have patience with it. Recommend you do not buy a Norton that is less than 3 years old. Wine spectator lists Mount Pleasent Winery's Norton (Augusta, MO) as one of the best. Hermanhoff and Stone Hill at Hermann, Missouri make good Nortons that are in pretty wide distribution.
                        If you are eve in the St. Louis area, I would suggest a trip out to the Missouri River wine country. You can go out from St. Louis and return easily in a day, or you can stay on highway 94 through Defiance, Augusta, Dutzow,and Hermann and make a couple of days of it. There are wineries all along the route.
                        Dale Rollings
                        Yellow Farmhouse Vineyard,
                        Defiance, MO

                        1. Hi Dale,

                          I'm looking forward to trying your Norton! Please let us know when your wines are ready, and we'll add your vineyard to MissouriWineCountry.com.

                          Cory Kleinschmidt

                          1. Norton (Cynthiana) wines can be found throughout the South. Best Norton wines found so far: Three Sister (GA); White Oaks (AL); Crown & Century Farms (TN); Cooper (VA); Elk Creek (KY), Blumenhof, Heinrichshaus, Stone Hill's Cross J, & Robller (MO). Here is a list of how many Norton producing vineyards can be found in different states: Alabama - 2, Arkansas - 6, Florida - 1, Georgia - 5, Iowa - 5, Illinois - 25, Indiana - 1, Kansas - 5, Kentucky - 8, Louisiana - 2, Maryland - 1, Missouri - 54, New Jersey - 3, New York - 1, North Carolina - 3, Ohio - 2, Oklahoma - 4, Pennsylvania - 3, Tennessee - 11, Texas - 6, Virginia - 27, West Virginia - 2.

                            1. FWIW (since this old thread seems to have risen from its grave)

                              There is a book about Norton published in May 2010

                              The Wild Vine: A Forgotten Grape and the Untold Story of American Wine by Todd Kliman

                              I have not read it myself -- I was put off by the very wordy first few pages and will wait for the paperback - but you can read the first pages for yourself on Amazon

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Gussie Finknottle

                                About the grape and that book, published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
                                Missouri's state grape is an American original

                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                  Interesting that Missouri's state grape is Norton's Virginia Seedling :)

                                  1. re: Gussie Finknottle

                                    Few state grapes (a dubious concept to begin with) could quality as being indigenous to their state. I believe part of the reason for Norton being Missouri's state grape has to do with the huge number of acres that were at one time planted to Norton. In the late 1800s, Missouri had the highest number of vineyard acres of any state. There are many wonderful French and German wines in Missouri (St. Louis especially -- the import relationships go way back), and the Missouri varieties just don't measure up, even with new winemaking skills and technology. I sure wish they did.

                              2. There are 225 Norton wineries today in 23 states. Finding that exceptional Norton wine is like kissing a lot of toads to find that prince(ss). After tasting now 104 different Norton wines from sixteen states, we have found a few (6?) exciting Nortons and a handful of other really good wine examples which vary annually due to production whims. Many people want instant wine gratification upon purchase, but here is where that does not work since most Norton wines need to be put away for several years, ~ something most people are not willing or able to do. To date, we've found only a few "drink now" Norton wines; as, Westphalia and Peaceful Bend in Missouri and Castle Gruen in Virginia. And wineries that hold back their wines four or five years also consequently charge you more for these wines (Stone Hill Cross J Norton as example). But not to discourage you in Norton wine purchases, you will enjoy even younger Norton wines if you let your bottles rest even for a few weeks after purchase (travel bottle shock) and make sure to let your Norton wine breathe for no less than 40 minutes before serving. Your first sip will smack you of malic acids (+ tannins), but quickly settle down with the second sip, etc. Depending on your travel location, do try the best Norton wines within the following states: White Oaks (AL); Mount Bethel (AR), Three Sister (GA); Century Farms (TN); Elk Creek (KY); Castle Gruen, *Cooper, DuCard, Chrysalis $$(VA); Stone Mountain Cellars (PA), Heinrichshaus, Stone Hill's Cross J, Montelle, Robller, Peaceful Bend and Westphalia (MO). Please do not compare this wine to California and European vinifera, it's truly an American wine which reflects our American culture. Doug Frost, a Kansas City wine writer and master sommelier expressed Norton wines best as "powerful, muscular, crazy intense in malic acid and capable of staining teeth or even wineglasses. [The wine is] probably something most drinkers have to learn to love, with its rough and rustic personality often evident." Another concern for many is the cost of Norton wines. Realize that grape production can be less than one third per acre with Norton grapes as compared to other grape yields because of its small size and extremely seedy fruit. There are other factors involved also, but generally expect to pay $18-$25 per bottle. Most less expensive Norton wines reflect anticipated quality, but here we also have some fine exceptions; as, Horton ($12-$15 VA), St. James ($8-15 MO), Illinois Cellars ($7 IL) and White Oaks ($13 AL). Try to find Norton vineyards with older vines which combine well with more experienced Norton vintners. But here again, we have been pleasantly surprised with new Norton upstarts who make amazing blends to camouflage their young green Nortons. Do yourself a favor by enjoying Todd Kliman's novel-like-Norton biography, The Wild Vine, with a Norton wine in hand.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: rhodies

                                  Wow, you are quite the Nortonian!

                                  I just tried a glass of the Horton Norton ($10) at a small bookstore/restaurant in DC. It was both big and pleasant. Served room temp, but not American room temp, more like France. I have no idea if any special handling was used, probably not. You could sip or gulp this glass with equal satisfaction.

                                  I was prompted by Kliman's book, which is quite the achievement: both the wine and the characters in the book.... are not what you think.

                                  1. re: Steve

                                    A winery near Charlottesville, VA - Keswick Estates also produces a Norton. It is a higher quality wine than the Horton Norton. I enjoyed the Horton Norton but the Keswick is better.