Norton (grape)

Norton (grape)
Norton grapes.

Norton, a grape cultivar believed to be largely derived from Vitis aestivalis, 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[1] and is considered the cornerstone of the Missouri wine industry.[2] Although some believe that the Norton is a true native of North America, most experts suspect that it is a hybrid of one or more native varieties and one Vitis vinifera grape. The fact that it is self-fertile is seen as an indication of at least some Vitis vinifera in its background, and there are hints of Vitis labrusca as well, though the variety is still overwhelmingly Vitis aestivalis in character. In 2009 Riedel designed stemware specifically for wine made from the Norton grape.[3] The glass was unveiled at Les Bourgeois Winery near Columbia, Missouri.[4]



It was introduced by Dr. Daniel Norborne Norton of Richmond, Virginia, who selected it from among what he believed were seedlings of a long forgotten grape variety called Bland, though there is some doubt as to whether it was the actual source of the seed which yielded Norton. The male parent, presumably, was a wild vine of Vitis aestivalis.[5][6] Another cultivar, called Cynthiana, closely resembles Norton, but has traditionally been considered a separate variety. Genetic studies, however, have shown the two to be indistinguishable. Because there is some evidence indicating differences in wine quality and season of ripening, Cynthiana may be a mutation of the original Norton.

This grape became available commercially in 1830 and very soon after that came to dominate wine production in the eastern and midwestern United States.[6] Since this grape lacks most of the distinct flavors that are typical of native American grapes, it is quite suitable for making dry wine. At the 1873 Vienna World Exposition a Norton wine from Hermann, Missouri won a gold medal. 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. Prohibition ended the wine industry in the United States for a period of time. Vineyards were pulled up and Concord grapes were planted in their place, for juice and jam. After prohibition the wine industry in the eastern half of North America never recovered to the same degree that California's wine industry did.

Today, United States wineries along the east coast and throughout the midwest are re-cultivating and producing wines from Norton grapes. 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.[7] A planting of 6.5 acres (2.6 ha) of Norton was introduced into the Texas Hill Country in 1999.[8]

Anthocyanin content

Notable for deep blue-purple pigmentation, the skin of Norton grapes has a higher content of total anthocyanins (888 mg per 100 g) than other purple grape cultivars, Concord or Marechal Foch grapes.[9]

Anthocyanins are the largest group of water-soluble pigments in the plant kingdom and belong to the family of compounds known as polyphenols. Major sources of anthocyanins are blueberries, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, purple grapes and red wine. Numerous studies in medical research have shown that anthocyanins have broad biological effects including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-carcinogenic activities.[10][11]

See also


  1. ^ A. Garfunkel "Norton: Missouri’s State Grape Harbors Juicy Little Secrets" Sauce Magazine June 1, 2004
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Rebecca and Clifford Ambers. "American Wine Society Journal". Daniel Norborne Norton and the Origins of the Norton Grape. Retrieved 2006-09-06. 
  6. ^ a b Paul L. Roberts. "The Wineman International". Norton, America’s True Grape ...Whence, and Whither?. Retrieved 2006-03-06. 
  7. ^ Virginia Wines at Appellation America website
  8. ^ "A guide to Central Texas wineries". Austin American-Statesman. 2008-10-01. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  9. ^ Muñoz-Espada AC, Wood KV, Bordelon B, Watkins BA (November 2004). "Anthocyanin quantification and radical scavenging capacity of Concord, Norton, and Marechal Foch grapes and wines". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 52 (22): 6779–86. doi:10.1021/jf040087y. PMID 15506816. 
  10. ^ Mazza GJ (2007). "Anthocyanins and heart health". Annali dell'Istituto Superiore Di Sanità 43 (4): 369–74. PMID 18209270. 
  11. ^ Hou DX (March 2003). "Potential mechanisms of cancer chemoprevention by anthocyanins". Current Molecular Medicine 3 (2): 149–59. doi:10.2174/1566524033361555. PMID 12630561. 

External links

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