Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Norton, arguably the only variety of american vine species origin making a premium quality wine. Little known and little grown outside the eastern and midwestern united states, Norton is undoubtedly underrated because of entrenched bias against non-vinifera varieties. In Arkansas and missouri, it was the mainstay of an extremely important wine industry. Leon D. Adams calls Norton ‘the best of all native American red-wine grapes’ and praises it for its wines’ lack of foxy character.

The origin of this dark-skinned variety is uncertain, but it takes its name from Dr D. Norton of Richmond, Virginia, a pioneer grape-grower. A recent dna study has shown that it is a hybrid which has both Vitis aestivalis and Vitis vinifera (see vitis) in its pedigree. It is also known as Cynthiana in Missouri, Arkansas, and Virginia.