It saved a man's life, created the worlds greatest wine, destroyed during Prohibition, kept alive by a single person, now finally making a resurgence; the Norton grape. This is North America's only native grape variety that can make wine that will stand up to those of the world.
In the 1600's, the European settlers brought grape vines with them so they could try to make wine in the new world. Unfortunately, the climate prevented grapes from growing more than a couple of years and they slowly succumbed to disease. However, after seeds escaping into the wild and many years of natural processes we find ourselves in the personal vineyard of Dr. Daniel Norton. A man who devoted his entire life to his work in order to overcome being suicidal with his grief after having his wife and newborn pass away.
Richmond, Virginia in the 1820's Dr. Norton discovered a grape with promising hope in his experimental vineyard. His painstaking efforts in finding a native grape that would make wine with similar aroma and flavor with its European counterpart was discovered. Dr. Norton soon after began putting his new variety for sale on the commercial market. Some time later Virginia was now making some of the best wine in the country all from the Norton grape. Eventually, German settlers in Missouri started making wine with the Norton grape and brought American wine making into the global light. In 1873, at an international wine making competition in Vienna, a wine made with Norton grapes from Missouri won the "Best Red of All the Nations." After this the Europeans began planting Norton grapes. However due to the high chalky lime based soils of France it fell out of popularity.
This was around the time Prohibition struck and all the wine making grapes were destroyed in order to plant sweet grape varieties for the fresh market. When Prohibition finally ended and wine grapes could be planted again, the Norton grape was somehow forgotten.
It wasn't until the mid 1980's when a man in Virginia was determined to put the Norton grape back on the wine making map. Establishing a 55-acre vineyard exclusively to the Norton grape after finding, some of the original Norton grape vines of Missouri, this sparked resurgence back into this variety in the American making wine world.
Now with multiple wineries throughout the Mid-Atlantic region growing the Norton grape we find an increasingly amount of people experimenting with the aromas and flavors with grape can impart. The aroma and flavor is like raspberries and dark stone fruit with hints of bitter chocolate and coffee. It has a medium to full body with big fruity flavors, firm acidity and sweetness, but without the "foxy" flavors that other red wines give off.
MillStone is experimenting with the flavors of this "ancient" American grape variety to find out what flavors it gives our ciders, cysers, & meads. Staying true to ourselves, our Norton grapes came from Stone Mountain Wine Cellars just 110 miles away from the Mill. Where then we are fermenting on the skins for a natural fermentation process. Then we will free run and press off the skins to pre-determined barrels or blends to finish maturation. Then in time, we can bring to you, the flavors and aromas of America's only native red wine grape; the Norton grape.