Unearth the Deep Roots of Norton History

January 13, 2021

You may be familiar with Norton, the state grape of Missouri, but how well do you actually know this all-American varietal? Norton’s lengthy and complex history may surprise you! Unearth the deeply-held roots of Norton’s history and learn how it has become a foundational varietal that produces award-winning wines.

Long before settlers arrived and began winemaking in the United States, native grapes have grown on North American soil. Through trial and error, viticulturists and winemakers found that some of these grapes were better suited for making wine than others. One of these native grapes, Norton, was first developed in Virginia in the early 1800s by Dr. Daniel Norborne Norton. The true origin of the Norton grape is a bit unclear, as some claim that Dr. F.W. Lemosy discovered the grape growing wild on his property and gifted a cutting to Dr. Norton.

Although this grape was named after the horticulturist who developed it, a few different names have been used to identify what we know as Norton. Virginia Seedling, Norton’s Virginia Seedling and Cynthiana. In some parts of the United States, Cynthiana is considered to be a unique grape not connected to Norton – while the debate continues, research has concluded that the two are nearly identical.

Norton made its way from Virginia to the Hermann area in the 1840s when German settlers began planting and harvesting it. George Husmann, a self-taught viticulturist from the Hermann area, worked with other grape growers to develop hardier vines and improve the quality of Missouri wines, including Norton. Husmann later became a founding father of the Napa Valley wine industry in California, as his work in Missouri and with French vineyards gained him prominence in viticulture.

The first vintage of Missouri Norton was bottled in 1848 and soon took the world by storm. The 1873 World’s Fair in Vienna awarded a gold medal to a Norton produced in Hermann, where Missouri’s wine industry was bustling and thriving. Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, Norton made a name for itself as a high-quality, award-winning varietal that gained notoriety across the globe.

The 1860s and 1870s saw devastating Phylloxera blight sweep across French vineyards. Cuttings of Phylloxera-resistant grape vines, including Norton, are were sent from America to France to be grafted to their vines. Husmann and state entomologist C.V. Riley were among those who donated American varietal cuttings to France. Each year at the Missouri Wine Competition, the state’s top Norton wine is awarded the coveted C.V. Riley Award, which honors Riley’s legacy and contribution to the wine industry.

Prohibition dealt a devastating blow to the wine industry in 1919. Most vineyards in the state were destroyed and the Norton grape was nearly lost forever. Three decades after the repeal of Prohibition, the Held family reopened Stone Hill Winery and brought Norton back to life after discovering pre-Prohibition vines on a nearby property. Norton has since regained its notoriety and popularity in Missouri wine culture, and has continued to win awards at national and international wine competitions.

Norton has a deeply-rooted history, much like the roots of the grapevine itself. This varietal has changed the wine industry in Missouri and across the world, and continues to make history. The next time you enjoy a glass of bold Norton wine, take a moment to remember this grape’s rich history and tempestuous journey to your glass.

Experience the unique terroir Missouri Norton during the upcoming Feast Virtual Vine wine tasting. Sip along from the comfort of your home as host Cat Neville leads an exclusive live tasting and discussion with four Missouri winemakers and their award-winning Norton wines. If you’re in the St. Louis area, snag your ticket today, or listen along for free during the event.

2021 Missouri Wine Bucket List

January 12, 2021

New year, new possibilities. Missouri wine country is the place to find once-in-a-lifetime experiences and make unforgettable memories.

Not sure where to start? We invite you to take our 2021 Bucket List challenge. Battle your friends, family or go at it solo while seeing how many of these spectacular experiences you can mark off your list.

Right click the image above to download your very own copy of the 2021 Bucket List!

Wine Lovers Calendar

January 07, 2021

A new year has begun and there are many things to look forward to in Missouri wine country. With this calendar, you’ll find several months dedicated to the promotion of our Show-Me State’s grape varietals as well as important dates in the wine industry. As you enjoy the upcoming seasons, keep these Missouri wine-centric holidays in mind and celebrate accordingly – with a glass of Missouri wine, of course! 

Right click the image below to open in a new tab for download!

Norton: Rooted in History, Aged to Perfection

December 30, 2020

This January, discover the red wine that has a longstanding history and has been aged to perfection. Norton is a bold, yet approachable, dry red wine that is a product of pride and longevity.

Although Norton was first discovered in Virginia, the roots of this varietal’s history took hold in Missouri. German settlers in Hermann began growing Norton vines in the 1840s and were soon taking the world by storm with this hardy varietal, including winning a gold medal at the 1873 World’s Fair in Vienna. Today, Norton continues to win national and international wine competition awards, and receives special recognition at the annual Missouri Wine Competition. The C.V. Riley award, named in honor of the state’s first entomologist who was credited with helping save the French wine industry, distinguishes outstanding Missouri Norton wines.

Norton, the state grape of Missouri, is the most widely grown grape in the Show-Me State. This all-American varietal accounts for 20% of grapes grown across Missouri, and there are more than 300 bearing acres of Norton being harvested to produce this foundational Missouri wine. Norton can be found at many wineries not only in its true varietal form, but also in a variety of red blends and dessert wines.

Norton is a full-bodied, dry red wine that boasts spicy oak and dark fruit flavors, complemented by aromas of dark berries and cherries. This versatile varietal is stellar to enjoy by the glass, in a winetail or in your favorite recipe. The versatility of Norton extends into its pairing possibilities, from beef to smoked cheeses, even Doritos or pistachios. Want to see more Norton and food pairings to excite your taste buds? Head over to our infographic gallery!

Hoping to save your prized bottle of Norton for a special occasion? This must-have wine has been recognized as cellar-worthy, meaning that it can be stored and aged if desired. Whether you choose to enjoy Norton shortly after purchasing, or decide to let this bold wine age, make sure this staple Missouri wine has a place on your wine rack or in your cellar.

Experience the terroir of Missouri Norton and learn from the expert winemakers who have perfected this varietal at the Feast Virtual Vine wine tasting. On January 28th, sip along as host Cat Neville leads an exclusive tasting and discussion with featured Missouri winemakers. If you’re around the St. Louis area, be sure to claim your ticket and receive four bottles of award-winning wine, along with perfectly paired snacks and swag. For wine lovers across the state, you can tune in for free and discover what makes Norton so unique.

During January, discover the foundational Missouri wine that has a rich history and endless possibilities. Discover Norton, rooted in history, aged to perfection.

Happy Holidays, Honey Winetail

December 29, 2020








Serve up something sweet this holiday season with Missouri sparkling wine. Light and effervescent sparkling wine pairs with honey and fresh berries to create a festive, bright beverage perfect for raising a toast. Feel free to adjust the sweetness of this sipper based on your taste preferences! Check out this quick video to see how to recreate this simple and delicious treat.


Happy Holidays, Honey Winetail Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 1


For Rim Garnish:

Granulated sugar

Local honey (supplied by Missouri Grown)

For Beverage:

15-20 raspberries (plus more for garnish)

½ teaspoon granulated sugar

1 ounce local honey (supplied by Missouri Grown)

1 ½ ounce vodka


Missouri sparkling wine (we used Demi-Sec sparkling)


Dip a fluted glass in local honey and granulated sugar to create a sweet, festive rim and set aside. Combine raspberries and sugar in a food processor and puree until well blended. In a cocktail shaker, combine one ounce of the berry puree with honey, vodka and ice. Shake well and strain into rimmed glass. Top off with sparkling wine and add a few raspberries to the glass for an extra garnish. Enjoy!



Wine-Themed Gift Tags are Cheers-Worthy

December 21, 2020

Whether you’re wrapping a delicious bottle of Missouri wine, a unique gift from a Missouri winery gift shop or you snagged one of these awesome wine-lovers gifts, our unique gift tags will add an extra special touch!

Blank gift tags to use for presents - downloadable

Right click and click Save As!

Ladoga Ridge Winery: Rich in History, Rich in Community Pride

December 16, 2020

Smithville, a community rich with history and beaming with community pride, is where you will find Ladoga Ridge Winery. Ladoga Ridge is a family-owned, boutique winery surrounded by beautiful vineyards, trees as far as the eye can see, pastures and so much more. It has a sense of serenity that only nature can yield. The residents of Smithville are proud of its heritage, residents and merchants are inspired by its past, and it’s a place where all are committed to the future.

Longtime Smithville residents Galen and Leinda Haddock invested thought, time and hard physical labor to grow this business and they did so from the ground up. The couple planted the grapevines themselves. With the help of their friends, and most importantly their children, the Haddocks brought their dream to life. Their mission is clear - “Offer each of our guests an inviting and fun atmosphere where they can relax and reflect while enjoying high quality, affordable, hand crafted wines, surrounded by the natural beauty of our vineyards and unsurpassed service of our staff!”


The Haddocks knew the importance of involvement and today Ladoga Ridge is a member of the Smithville Area Chamber of Commerce, Northwest Missouri Wine Trail, Missouri Grape Growers Association, Missouri Vintners Association and more! Leinda became a member of the Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, started a city beautification day, and even received a "Key to the City."

Sadly, Leinda passed away in May of this year. Leinda was a very big part of the winery’s operations, an active member in the Northwest Missouri Wine Trail and in the community. Friends and family remember her kindness, impeccable work ethic, beautiful smile and so much more. Galen, her husband of 37 years, is continuing the push through.

Not only is Galen the winery owner, he is also the winemaker. He is currently bottling delicious blackberry wine and noted the success of Galen’s Red – now with the title of most popular wine! In addition to Galen’s Red, Ladoga Ridge offers four white wines ranging from sweet to dry, a semi-sweet rosé, four addition reds ranging from sweet to dry, fruit wines including Peach, Strawberry Rhubarb and Blackberry, and finally a sweet Chambourcin Port.


Free tastings, delicious food, unique gift shop items, indoor and outdoor seating, music and tours are just a few things you can expect to experience when visiting this winery. It will be a place you want to bring your friends and family to, and for special occasions you can rent out tent space or the breathtaking Hearth Room.

A beautiful place, relaxing, truly great tasting wine, amazing hospitality are just some of the things Ladoga Ridge customers have to say about their visits. You too can escape the stresses of the week with an evening of wine tasting. Bring your friends, family or come alone. The Ladoga Ridge staff is always glad to see you and pour you a glass of award-winning wine.



Spice Up the Holiday Season with Sangria

December 16, 2020

Looking for a new and different way to enjoy Missouri wines at home this holiday season? Try mixing up a pitcher of delicious sangria to share!

Sangria is a mixed beverage originating from Spain and Portugal, although the exact history of how sangria came to be is a bit of a mystery. This summertime sipper’s name actually comes from the Spanish word for “blood” (sangre) and pays homage to the rich red wine that serves as the base. Want to change things up? While red wine is traditionally used in Spanish sangria, other Missouri wines make an excellent base, including Vidal Blanc featured in our Missouri Winter White Sangria recipe.

The beauty of sangria, besides its vibrant color, lies in its ability to be customized based upon your taste preferences. Do you like a sweeter or more tart taste? Are you a fan of tropical flavors, or do you prefer more spicy notes? The possibilities are endless with sangria! Once you know the basic building blocks, you can mix, match and create sangria for nearly every occasion and palate.

Creating your masterpiece is easy – all it takes is 4 easy components to build your perfect sangria (check out our handy infographic for building your best sangria).

  1. Wine: Red, white, rosé – choose based on your taste preferences.
  2. Sweetener: Common sweeteners include honey, sugar, simple syrup, fruit juice or sweet wine.
  3. Fruit: Fresh or frozen fruit is commonly found in sangria recipes. Experiment and add spices or fresh herbs!
  4. Liqueur: Brandy is used in traditional Spanish sangria, but any liqueur that pairs with your ingredients will work.

Need some inspiration for a fun and festive sangria to serve? Check out the recipe below!

Merry Mead Sangria Recipe

This colorful concoction is sure to be a hit at your next holiday gathering. Rich, spicy Norton and mellow, slightly sweet mead mix with fresh fruits and baking spices in this festive and flavorful sangria. We left the traditional fourth component of a sangria (liqueur) out of this recipe, but feel free to add your favorite liqueur that pairs with the following ingredients.

Prep Time: 15 minutes (not including chilling time)

Yield: 6-8 servings


2 – Oranges (one for sangria and one for garnish)

½ – Honeycrisp Apple

½ – Granny Smith Apple

1 cup – Cranberries (add more/less depending on desired taste)

3 – Cinnamon Sticks (add more/less depending on desired taste)

2 tsp. – Cloves (whole)

1 cup – Orange Juice

½ bottle – Missouri Mead

1 bottle – Missouri Norton



Slice one orange into thin slices. Chop apples and slice cranberries in half. Place all fruit in a large serving pitcher or bowl. Add cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Pour orange juice over fruit, followed by mead and Norton. Stir, chill and enjoy in glasses topped with an orange slice garnish!

Quick tip – want to easily remove your cloves and cinnamon sticks before enjoying a glass? Place them in a cheesecloth pouch or use a mesh strainer to retrieve them before serving.

Behind the Label: Balducci Vineyards' 4310

December 08, 2020

Nestled on a hillside in historic Augusta, Balducci Vineyards has been producing wine since 2001. While the Balducci family has been making and selling award-winning wine for nearly 20 years, the family’s history in the food and beverage industry goes back several generations. This deep-rooted connection to family and heritage is an integral part of not only the winery’s success, but of their recognizable branding and inspiration for the lineup of wines Balducci offers.

Balducci Vineyards tasting room

The Balducci family migrated from Italy to the United States in 1906. Louis Balducci spent time working in California vineyards and started the Balducci Wine Company in 1946. In 1975, Rick Balducci, son to Louis, and two business partners opened Balducci’s Restaurant in St. Louis. Rick and his wife, Carol, purchased the winery property from a family member in 1987 with a vision to build a successful winery program. The Balduccis have continued to make the wine business a family affair. Carol and Rick handle many aspects of events and day-to-day operations at the winery and Nic, their son, is the chief winemaker.

Balducci Vineyards ties in a strong connection between family and history. The winery gives subtle nods to their heritage and history in many aspects of their business, including the packaging of their award-winning wines. A hallmark of the Balducci wine label is the silhouette of a barn, which pays tribute to the original barn on the winery property that has been standing since the 1800s.

Balducci Vineyards Norton Limited wine bottle label

The significance and story behind the Balducci label is as unique as the wine inside. Each wine’s name references various aspects of the Balducci family’s heritage and interests. Natalia, a Vidal Blanc and Vignoles blend, was named after Rick and Carol’s daughter, Natalie. Sonata and Aria (currently sold out) reflect Rick’s interest in music as both names are terms used in musical composition. The latest wine to be added to the Balducci Vineyards lineup is 43o10o, which has its own unique story and connection to the family.

Balducci Vineyards' 4310 wine label

Nic and his wife gave birth to a son nearly two years ago and named him Lucca. This name was of particular significance because the Balducci family came to the United States from the northern Italian city of Lucca. Lucca’s GPS coordinates are 43 degrees north latitude and 10 degrees west longitude, the exact combination that grace the label. Other elements of the 43o10o packaging also pay homage to the family’s heritage. A golden wax seal adorns the label and is reminiscent of traditional Italian wine labels. The stamp showcases the same outline of the historic barn as the other wines in the Balducci Vineyards lineup. The thick paper and metallic gold lettering were carefully selected to incorporate elements of traditional wine labels as well. These features are combined elegantly to create a label doesn’t overpower the beautiful wine inside and piques the interest of the curious customer. Balducci Vineyards’ 43o10o is a rich, fortified white wine made from 100% Vignoles grapes and aged new French oak barrels for 30 months. While 43o10o is a dessert wine that pairs well with dark chocolate and dried fruits, it can be enjoyed at any occasion.

Balducci Vineyards' 4310 wine label close-up

Stop by Balducci Vineyards during your next visit to Augusta and toast to family and heritage with 43o10o. To learn more about Balducci Vineyards and to find their contact information, check out their listing on our website.

Give the Perfect Wine-Related Gift on Any Budget

December 02, 2020

Are you having a hard time finding the right gift for the wine lover on your list that seems to have everything? In addition to Missouri wine of course, here are some one-of-kind gift ideas for that special someone in your life. Don’t forget, many Missouri wineries have gift shops that house items like these and much more!

1. Wine Rocks keep your wine chilled.


2. Take your wine’s temperature with the Alltemp Select Infrared Wine ThermometerWine Thermometer.jpg


3. Jewelry definitely says “I love you” and with this wine necklace, it’ll also say, “I know you.”

4. Wine glass pens or wine glass charms help you personalize your wine glass.

5. Devoted wine loving ladies may enjoy this Wine Accessories Gift Box Set for women by LePrene.

6. Let your wine breath with the Vintorio Wine Aerating Pourer.

7. The True Wall-Mounted Wine Rack is a unique way to store wine against the wall.

8. Keep those toes warm with these Wine Crew Socks

9. This pine display box is a cute way to cover and gift wine.

10. Mix functionality and fabulous décor with this marble wine cooler.

11. Protect open wine bottles and glasses while spending time outdoors with this wine holder kit

12. Picnic anywhere with this personalized picnic table that doubles as a wine holder.

13. Never forget your wine tasting favorites with this wine journal complete with tabbed sections for all types of wines.

14. Keep your wine at the perfect temperature for 24 hours with this Winesulator set.

15. A touch control wine cellar? What will they think of next?

16. We all make messes from time to time, this emergency wine stain remover will be much appreciated.

17. Give the gift of relaxation with this bath caddy featuring a special wine glass holder.

18. Keep things cool with the Corkcicle Air. It chills and aerates!

19. If novelty gifts are your thing, check out this jumbo wine glass

20. In the St. Louis area? Grab tickets to a Feast Magazine Virtual Vine wine tasting event sponsored by Missouri Wines. You’ll receive four bottles of wine delivered right to your door and during the event you will get to meet the winemakers.

We hope this list left you with one less (or more) person to shop for. All of us at Missouri Wines wish you a wonderful wine-filled holiday season!



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