Norton Grape – Chrysalis Vineyards

Welcome to our video podcast: Norton Grape – (Chrysalis Vineyards) – Video Show #76.

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Many people think of Zinfandel as “America’s Grape”, largely due to the venerable age of its many vineyards. However, it is the Norton grape that arguably should be considered the true native American grape. A non-vinifera variety, Norton has thrived in the mid-Atlantic and Midwestern regions of the country for more than a century and a half, and produces a robust red wine with big fruit flavors that seems to age quite well for many years. In fact, 125 years ago, Norton wines were deemed the “best red wine of all nations” at a worldwide competition in Vienna. Today excellent versions of Norton are being produced in many states east of the Rockies, most notably in Missouri and Virginia.

On our recent trip to visit several Mid-Atlantic wineries, we were fortunate to spend some time with Jenny McCloud, proprietor of Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg, Virginia. Join us as we talk with Jenny about the Norton grape’s unique place in American winemaking, and take a little vineyard tour in the process.

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15 Responses to “Norton Grape – Chrysalis Vineyards”


  1. 1 Matt Sep 15th, 2009 at 7:49 am

    It’s great to see Norton getting some appreciation here, I have been a fan of Norton wines for a while now and they are beautiful. Virginia Wineworks, not to far from me here in Charlottesville, makes my favorite. You guys did pick a great place to check out though, their 2005 Norton was quite good.

  2. 2 Tyler McAfee Sep 16th, 2009 at 8:13 am

    So, what does it taste like???

  3. 3 Matt Sep 16th, 2009 at 9:07 am

    usually Norton/Cynthiana wines are dry with a nice spiciness to them. They usually have a smell and taste of raspberry to them as well as coffee on occasion. they also generally have a some what jammy taste to them in my experience.

    but this is just generalizations as they can have alot of other great flavours depending on how they’re made. I have even had one that had an oddly pleasing eucalyptus smell and taste to it. over all though they make some really great red wines (and the occasional Rose).

  4. 4 Boris Sep 17th, 2009 at 4:48 am

    167 Norton producing wineries today in 20 states. So far we have visited 40 Norton vineyards and this weekend we’ll hit three more of Georgia’s Norton wine producers. So many Nortons, so many miles, so many bottles to go. How close are you to a Norton winery? Alabama (2), Arkansas (6), Georgia (4), Iowa (4), Illinois (24), Indiana (1), Kansas (5), Kentucky (6), Louisiana (1), Maryland (1), Missouri (53), North Carolina (3), New Jersey (3), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (4), Pennsylvania (3), Tennessee (10), Texas (6), Virginia (27), and West Virginia (2). When at the winery, let your Norton breathe before tasting.

  5. 5 Simon Apr 27th, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    167 Norton producing wineries today in 20 states. So far we have visited 40 Norton vineyards and this weekend we’ll hit three more of Georgia’s Norton wine producers. So many Nortons, so many miles, so many bottles to go. How close are you to a Norton winery? Alabama (2), Arkansas (6), Georgia (4), Iowa (4), Illinois (24), Indiana (1), Kansas (5), Kentucky (6), Louisiana (1), Maryland (1), Missouri (53), North Carolina (3), New Jersey (3), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (4), Pennsylvania (3), Tennessee (10), Texas (6), Virginia (27), and West Virginia (2). When at the winery, let your Norton breathe before tasting.

  6. 6 Boris May 3rd, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Norton numbers keep changing: There are now 183 Norton wine producers in twenty-two states. Some nice Norton wines come from the following other than Chrysalis Vineyards: Three Sister (GA); White Oaks (AL); Crown & Century Farms (TN); Elk Creek (KY); Cooper, Castle Gruen, & DuCard (VA); Blumenhof, Heinrichshaus, Stone Hill’s Cross J, & Montelle (MO). – who is this SIMON fellow with the copy and pasted note?

  7. 7 Susan May 8th, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Where can I find a list of all US wineries producing Norton wines?

  8. 8 Boris May 8th, 2010 at 11:01 am

    A good list to go to that has most Norton wine producers can be found at:
    http://www.wine-compass.com/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabindex=4&tabid=3

    For reviews of Norton vineyards I have gone to (plus a few other non-Norton vineyards): http://www.catchwine.com/users/rhodies/journal/

    If grape radio wants me to list a state-by-state listing of all 183 Norton wineries, I can do that also, but that takes up a bit of room for these replies.

  9. 9 Boris May 8th, 2010 at 11:33 am

    To get a great background and a documentary on the American wine industry which centers around the Norton grape, read Todd Kliman’s book which was released May 4, 2010, The Wild Vine. This books introduces readers to characters, dead and alive, that make the Norton wine a part of our American history, yet reads as a novel. I promise you, if you are in the slightest bit interested in Norton wines, you will absolutely, positively love this book. Some big surprises are revealed in this Norton social commentary. I’m not a fast reader, but two days after I finished my ARC copy of The Wild Vine, I started to read this account over once again (a first for me for any book).

  10. 10 Susan May 8th, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Thanks, Boris. Was not aware of the wine-compass.com listing. Am aware of catchwine.com. Very good resource! Also, found Todd’s newly released book a couple days ago and look forward to reading it. It’s hard to find Norton wines around the country unless you live in MO or VA, I suspect. Most producers are small wineries that sell directly to public, especially in states other than MO, VA, and maybe TX. I have started to recommend Norton wines to friends around the country and like to provide a source for them to visit to try out Norton wine. Your info will help. Thanks!

  11. 11 GrapeRadio Bunch May 9th, 2010 at 2:14 am

    Boris, you must be a very fast reader. You read the entire book only a few days after it’s release. Perfect timing

    Jay

  12. 12 Boris May 9th, 2010 at 2:39 am

    Read ARC (advanced reading copy) publishers release of The Wild Vine in early March. Enjoyed meeting Todd Kliman at the DrinkLocalWines conference in Lansdowne, VA recently. The Wild Vine in hardback was released officially May 4th. Got two copies of the hardback from amazon.com the next day via an advanced order. Rather than heavy historical data read, this a light personal insight into the many characters making up what we know today as Norton wines. You will recognize most of the characters, be they dead or alive. Have a bottle of Norton wine opened for the last third of the book, you’ll need it to contain your smiles.

  13. 13 Boris Dec 11th, 2010 at 5:17 am

    The interest in Norton wines continues to grow with a count today of 220 Norton wineries in 23 states: Alabama – 3, Arkansas – 6, Florida – 1, Georgia – 8, Illinois – 26, Indiana – 1, Iowa – 6, Kansas – 8, Kentucky – 12, Louisiana – 2, Maryland – 1, Missouri – 72, Nebraska – 1, New Jersey – 3, New York – 1, North Carolina – 3, Ohio – 3, Oklahoma – 6, Pennsylvania – 3, Tennessee – 11, Texas – 9, Virginia – 33, West Virginia – 1. Four or five in this count will be releasing their first Norton wines in 2011. In most cases, purchasing Norton wines is a drink later rather than drink now scenario which often inhibits purchases. If you can put up these wines for a few years you will be rewarded for your patience. Aged Norton wines add to the purchase costs, as can be found in Stone Hills very nice Cross J Nortons. I’ve found very few truly acceptable “drink now” Nortons, but here are two examples, ~ Castle Gruen (VA) and Westphalia (MO).

  1. 1 10/2010 An Interview with Todd Kliman, Author of The Wild Vine | AlcoholReviews.com pingback on Oct 21st, 2010 at 10:13 am
  2. 2 10/2010, in an interview with Todd Kliman, author of wild grape | Best Alcohol pingback on Nov 20th, 2010 at 6:31 am

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