Norton is a red wine grape that is believed to be largely derived from Vitis aestivalis. It is grown in the Midwestern United States, Mid-Atlantic States and northeastern Georgia. Norton was first cultivated in Richmond, Virginia and is the official grape of the State of Missouri, and is considered the cornerstone of the wine industry in this state. Strong evidence indicates that Dr. Daniel Norton first grew the Norton cultivar during the early 19th century in his vineyards in Virginia. Further evidence has been reported that Dr. Norton developed the cultivar from seeds from a now extinct variety with unconfirmed parentage, Bland, pollinated by a Vitis Aestivalis grapevine.
This grape became commercially avaliable in 1830, and soon dominated wine production in the eastern and midwestern United States. The fact that this grape lacks the “foxy” flavors that are typical of native American grapes, made it quite suitable for the production of dry wines. This grape gained recognition when, in 1873, a Norton wine from Hermann, Virginia won a gold medal at the Vienna World Exposition. Henry Vizetelly, a noted critic of the time, said that Norton from Missouri would one day rival the great wines of Europe in quality and quantity. The coming of Prohibition ended the wine industry in the United States for a period of time. Many Norton Vineyards were pulled up and Concord grapes were planted in their place for the production of juice and jams. After prohibition the wine industry in the Eastern half of North America didn't recover to the same degree that California's wine industry did. Today, United States wineries along the east coast and throughout the midwest are starting to re-cultivate and produce wines using Norton grapes. The areas are still relatively small, with the largest single planting of Norton in the world is located at Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg, Virginia, which has 69 acres (28 ha) of the grape planted. A planting of 6.5 acres (2.6 ha) of Norton was introduced into the Texas Hill Country in 1999.
Wines produced using this grape tend to be a very deep, dark red color. They are typically full bodied dry wines, high in acidity with medium tannins. They display earthy aromas and flavors of black cherries, blackberries, vanilla and pepper. This wine pairs well with veal, pork, barbeque chicken, game and beef with acidic sauces and marinades.