Norton: An unparalleled product of pride

January 05, 2022

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In January we celebrate Norton, Missouri’s state grape. Norton is a full-bodied, dry red wine which has captured the hearts of many wine enthusiasts. This unparalleled product of pride stands out because of its unique flavors, quality and the passion that goes into making Norton wines.

Norton is a native American grape that was discovered in 1835 near Richmond, Virginia. This grape was also widely grown in Arkansas but given the name Cynthiana. Researchers confirmed the two grapes are genetically identical. However, winemakers continue to use both names interchangeably.

In the vineyard, Norton is known for being hardy and disease resistant. Clusters are small to medium sized, with blue and black berries. It is the most popular grape grown throughout the state, accounting for 17.7 percent of vineyard acres. Wineries across the state enjoy growing Norton because it withstands Missouri’s climate and weather challenges and is suited by the range of soils found in the Show Me State.

Missouri’s Governor honors a Norton every year, which is selected during the Missouri wine competition. All Norton entries are tasted side-by-side to distinguish the honor of Best Norton and name of C.V. Riley award winner. The award is presented in the namesake of Charles Valentine Riley, Missouri’s first entomologist. He was appointed in 1868 and was named the “father of biological control” after contributing to the solution that saved the French wine industry from the phylloxera epidemic. He supplied thousands of root stock that helped rebuild and strengthen the vineyards in France.

The C.V. Riley Award is presented every year with pride, just as those winemakers who grow and cultivate it, turn it passionately into the high-quality Norton wines produced throughout the state. This year, Stone Hill Winery took home the C.V. Riley Award for their 2019 Norton. No doubt, it was a competitive lineup this year, as it is every year.

Norton is perfect for pairing, as its flavor profile is so unique. Notes range from fruit forward to spicy and oaky. It pairs well with smoked meats such as beef, venison and lamb. Dark chocolate pairings bring forward the fruit flavor, as well as spiced cake and berries. Bold spices and cheeses allow Norton to shine in a class all its own.

Cheers to our state grape, Norton! New Year celebrations continue beyond sparkling wines in January. Grab a Norton and share with us how you enjoy this unparalleled product of pride. Tag us on social @missouriwine and #mowine.