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Wine 101

Vitis Labrusca - Vitis Vinifera - Hybrids - Fruit Wines - Spirits - Wine Making - Glossary - Varietals - Tasting


Vitis Labrusca is dedicated to improving the wine public’s knowledge and appreciation of native North American species of vine and hybrids. This section will contain information regarding the Vitis Aestivalis (Norton and Cynthiana), Vitis Rotundifolia (Muscadine), and Vitis Labrusca vine species. Within each report, a few wineries will be featured as well as a list of wineries that produce wine from the grape.
Norton - Muscadine - Catawba - Cayuga - Steuben - Delaware - Blanc Du Bois - Frontenac - Isabella - Mustang - Diamond - Fredonia


In 1873, the international wine community was stunned when a Missouri produced Norton wine was declared the “Best Red of All Nations” at an International competition in Vienna, Austria. At the time many European vineyards were just recovering from Phylloxera, and because of Norton’s relative immunity to disease and pests, this grape was designated as a possible savior to their ravaged vineyards. However, the vine’s intolerance to European soils lead to its quick fall from popularity. Today, Norton thrives in humid southern states, such as Virginia, Missouri as well as Arkansas, where it is referred to as the ‘Cabernet of the Ozarks’.

Norton or Vitis Aestivalis is a native North American grape officially discovered in 1823 by Dr. Daniel Norborne Norton (1794-1842), a physician from Richmond. Dr. Norton cultivated and nurtured this new species in a small plot of land known as Magnolia Farm, just northwest of the city of Richmond, along with 26 other varieties. Modestly named after himself, Norton was not created intentionally, but resulted as a chance of nature through open pollination, possibly between Pinot Meunier and a now extinct hybrid known as Bland.

Shortly after his discovery, Norton was quickly adopted by many growers as a hearty grape able to yield quality fruit for wine making. Based on sale documents, Norton is one of the oldest native grape varieties commercially used to make wine in North America. In fact, it was sold and used to make wines since 1830 as an inexpensive alternative to importing well-known European vinifera grapes, vines, and wines.

Norton exhibits hints of tart plums, sour cherries, or elderberries and has a spicy nose similar to Syrah. It is stronger in the front and mid-palette and has a velvety finish somewhere between a Merlot and Pinot Noir. Norton is often blended with other grapes like Tannat, Merlot, Syrah, and Petit Verdot to provide a more balanced wine. These blends are still referred to as “Norton” since, by law, as long at 75% of the wine is made from a single grape, you can still label it with the varietal name.

The largest producer of Norton in its home state of Virginia, as well as the Eastern U.S., is Chrysalis Vineyards. The vineyard’s owner, Jennifer McCloud, has made growing quality Norton grapes a personal crusade. Two of their better releases are 2002 Norton - Estate Bottled and 2002 Norton - Locksley Reserve. These wines were awarded an 89 and 88 rating respectively by the Virginia Wine Guide. Another successful Norton producer in Virginia is Horton Vineyards. Horton was the first Virginian winery to produce Norton after prohibition and their last release, 2002 Norton, was awarded a rating of 89 by the Virginia Wine Guide.

Although Norton, was "discovered" in Virginia, it is more popular in the American Midwest, where the grape is sometimes known as Cynthiana. Missouri has a proud wine producing history and was the first federally-approved American viticulture. In the late 19th century, the state was the second largest wine producing state in the United States. Norton has gained wide customer acceptance in Missouri and in 2004-2005, Norton wines won the Governor's Cup for the Best Missouri Wine: Augusta Winery’s 2002 Estate Bottled Norton in 2004 and Mount Pleasant Winery’s 2003 Norton in 2005. Mark Baehmann of Mount Pleasant Winery attributed Norton’s success in Missouri to its ability to produce quality wine while remaining disease resistant and hardy through winter. Another celebrated Missouri Norton is produced by Stone Hill Winery. Park Lukacs designated this wine as one of America's 40 greatest wines. In neighboring Kansas, Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery's Cynthiana won the 2004 Jefferson's Cup as the best wine made in the Midwest. And two of our favorites are produced nearby by Davenport Winery and Kugler's Vineyard.

Norton appears to be gaining popularity elsewhere in the United States. In New Jersey, Valenzano Winery’s Cynthiana won the 2004 & 2005 Governor's Cup. Approximately 115 wineries in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiania, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsyvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia are making Norton or Cynthiana wine. These numbers should expand as more consumers discover Norton wine.

From This Hill, My Hand, Cynthiana's Wine by Paul L. Roberts
Norton, America’s True Grape: Whence, and Whither? by Paul L. Roberts
“Red, White, and Norton” by Tolga Baki of Hillsborough Vineyards ( and the Virginia Wine Guide (
Exploring Missouri Wine Country by Brett Dufur
What's in the Norton name? A big surprise by By Jeff Siegel - Originally published by the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram

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Chateux Aux Arc - AR
Cowie Wine Cellars - AR
Keels Creek Winery - AR
Mount Bethel Winery - AR
Post Familie Vineyards & Winery - AR
Wiederkehr Wine Cellars - AR
Strong Tower Vineyard and Winery - FL
Boutier Winery - GA
Cartecay Vineyards - GA
Cavender Creek Vineyards - GA
Chateau Meichtry - GA
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Frogtown Cellars And Vineyard - GA
Hightower Creek Vineyard - GA
Little Vine Vineyards - GA
Odom Springs Vineyards - GA
Paradise Hills Vineyard and Farm Winery - GA
Stonewall Creek Vineyards - GA
Three Sisters Vineyards - GA
Tiger Mountain Vineyards - GA
Bodega Victoriana - IA
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Crane Winery - IA
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La Vida Loca Winery - IA
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Sugar Clay Winery & Vineyards - IA
Vine Street Cellars - IA
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Wooden Wheel Vineyard - IA
Alto Vineyards - IL
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Baxter's Vineyards and Winery - IL
Berryville Vineyards - IL
Blue Sky Vineyard - IL
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Lasata Winery - IL
Mary Michelle Winery & Vineyard - IL
Monte Alegre Vineyard - IL
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Sleepy Creek Vineyards - IL
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Tuscan Hills Winery - IL
The Village Vintner Winery Brewery - IL
Wild Pickins Winery & Vineyard - IL
Willow Ridge Vineyards & Winery - IL
The Winery at Shale Lake - IL
Blackhawk Winery - IN
Coal Creek Cellars - IN
Country Moon Winery - IN
French Lick Wine & Spirits - IN
Rettig Hill Winery - IN
TWO-EE's Winery - IN
BlueJacket Crossing Vineyard & Winery - KS
Crescent Moon Winery - KS
Davenport Orchards & Winery - KS
Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery - KS
Oz Winery - KS
Rowe Ridge Vineyard & Winery - KS
Smoky Hill Vineyards & Winery - KS
Stone Pillar Vineyard - KS
Boucherie Vineyards & Winery - KY
Cave Hill Vineyards - KY
Cedar Creek Vineyards - KY
Chateau Du Vieux Corbeau - KY
Eddy Grove Vineyard - KY
Elk Creek Vineyards - KY
Equus Run Vineyards - KY
First Vineyard Winery - KY
Harkness Edwards Vineyards - KY
Horse Shoe Bend Vineyards - KY
Lovers Leap Vineyard & Winery - KY
Smith-Berry Winery - KY
Wight-Meyer Vineyard and Winery - KY
Wildside Vines Winery and Vineyard - KY
Landry Vineyards - LA
Wild Bush Farm + Vineyard - LA
Deep Creek Cellars - MD
Layton's Chance Vineyard and Winery - MD
Silly Yak Beer Company - MD
Six Wicket Vineyards - MD
Blue Water Winery and Vineyard - MI
Upper Peninsula Brewing Company - MI
7Cs Winery - MO
Adam Puchta Winery - MO
Albonée Winery - MO
Apple Creek Vineyard & Winery - MO
Augusta Winery - MO
Balducci Vineyards - MO
Baltimore Bend Vineyard - MO
Belmont Vineyards - MO
Belvoir Winery - MO
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Cedar Lake Cellars - MO
Chandler Hill Vineyards - MO
Charleville Vineyards - MO
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Claverach Farm and Vineyards - MO
Defiance Ridge Vineyards - MO
Durso Hills Vineyard and Winery - MO
Eagle’s Nest Winery - MO
Fahrmeier Family Vineyards - MO
Heinrichshaus Vineyard & Winery - MO
Hermannhof Winery - MO
Holy Grail Winery - MO
Jowler Creek Winery - MO
Keltoi Vineyard - MO
Kuenzel Valley Winery - MO
La Bella Vinyards & Winery - MO
LaChance Vineyards - MO
Ladoga Ridge Winery - MO
Les Bourgeois Vineyards - MO
Lewsi Winery - MO
Lindwedel Wine Garden - MO
Missouri State Winery and Distillery - MO
Montelle Winery - MO
Montserrat Vineyards - MO
Mount Pleasant Winery - MO
Noboleis Vineyards - MO
OakGlenn Vineyards & Winery - MO
Peaceful Bend Vineyard - MO
The Peculiar Winery - MO
Persimmon Ridge Vineyards - MO
Pirtle Winery & Spirits - MO
Primitive Olde Crow and Winery - MO
Red Fox Winery & Vineyards - MO
Red Moose Vineyard - MO
River Ridge Winery - MO
Riverwood Winery - MO
Röbller Vineyard Winery - MO
Seven Springs Winery and Vineyards - MO
St. James Winery - MO
St. Jordan Creek Winery - MO
Stone Hill Winery - MO
Stonehaus Farms Winery - MO
Sugar Creek Winery & Vineyards - MO
Twains Vineyard - MO
Twin Oaks Vineyard and Winery - MO
Tyler Ridge Vineyard Winery - MO
Van Till Family Farm Winery - MO
Vance Vineyards & Winery - MO
Viandel Vineyard - MO
Villa Antonio Winery - MO
Weingarten Vineyard - MO
Wenwood Farm Winery - MO
West Winery - MO
Westphalia Vineyards - MO
White Mule Winery - MO
Windy Wine Company - MO
Undammed Distilling Co. - MT
Carolina Heritage Vineyard and Winery - NC
Grove Winery - NC
Hinnant Family Vineyard - NC
Huffman Vineyards & Winery - NC
Sanctuary Vineyards - NC
Serre Vineyards - NC
Stardust Cellars & Taproom - NC
Deer Springs Winery - NE
James Arthur Vineyards - NE
Sage Hill Vineyard - NE
Soaring Wings Vineyard - NE
Laurita Vineyards & Winery - NJ
Renault Winery - NJ
Valenzano Winery - NJ
DOPE Cider House and Winery - OH
Loose Rail Brewing - OH
Meranda-Nixon Winery - OH
Shamrock Vineyard - OH
Chapel Creek Winery - OK
Coal Creek Vineyard & Winery - OK
Farfalla Winery - OK
Tres Suenos Vineyards and Winery - OK
Glades Pike Winery - PA
Stone Mountain Wine Cellars - PA
Totem Pole Ranch & Winery - PA
Twin Brook Winery - PA
Lagunitas Charleston TapRoom & Beer Sanctuary - SC
Valiant Vineyards Winery - SD
Beachaven Vineyards - TN
Beans Creek Winery - TN
Big Creek Winery Christiana - TN
Blue Slip Winery - TN
Century Farm Winery - TN
Crown Winery & Brewery - TN
Holly Ridge Winery and Vineyard - TN
Northfield Vineyards - TN
Ocee Winery - TN
Old Millington Vineyard & Winery - TN
Tennessee Valley Winery - TN
Watauga Lake Winery - TN
Blue Duck Winery - TX
Eden Hill Winery & Vineyards - TX
Enoch's Stomp Vineyard & Winery - TX
Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards - Pittsburg - TX
Stone House Vineyard - TX
The Vineyard At Florence - TX
Vintage Cork 917 - TX
53rd Winery & Vineyard - VA
Abingdon Vineyard & Winery - VA
Barrel Oak Winery & Brewery - VA
Belle Mount Vineyards - VA
Bluemont Vineyard - VA
Burnley Vineyards - VA
Byrd Cellars - VA
Casanel Vineyards - VA
Castle Gruen Vineyards And Winery - VA
Chrysalis Vineyards at the Ag District Center - VA
DeVault Family Vineyards - VA
DuCard Vineyards - VA
Elk Island Winery - VA
Glass House Winery - VA
Horton Vineyards - VA
Jacey Vineyards - VA
Keswick Vineyards - VA
Lexington Valley Vineyard - VA
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Molliver Vineyards - VA
Mountain Cove Vineyards - VA
New Kent Vineyards - VA
Potomac Point Winery - VA
Rappahannock Cellars - VA
Rockbridge Vineyard & Brewery - VA
Twin Oaks Tavern Winery - VA
Valhalla Vineyards - VA
Weston Farm Vineyard and Winery - VA
The Winery at Bull Run - VA
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Daniel Vineyards - WV - a Tradex Consulting company
Vienna, Virginia
Fax: 703-991-2548
Copyright 2005 Tradex Consulting - WineCompass