When I visited vineyards in Virginia a few months back I had never heard of the Norton grape… and to my surprise I loved it! This grape “roots” far back into Virginia’s history all the way back to Colonial times. It was named the “best red wine of all nations” at the Vienna (love Vienna!) World’s Fair of 1873, and has since received other notable recognitions.
There is debate as to whether this is a native American grape or if it is derived from the vitis vinifera grape, both of which are plausible- but whatever side of the fence you stand by, it’s still an outstanding choice. Missouri claims it as it’s state grape, but it’s also very popular in Virginia.. so what makes this grape so spectacular?
These dark- skinned small berries produce both a good color and tannin level. These age-worthy wines have rich, fruity aromas and flavors. One of my favorite tasting notes is that you can really taste the cherry notes in them, and hey with Valentine’s day right around the corner it’s the perfect wine to pair with red meat, duck, brie or Andre cheese or a wild mushroom flatbread … or if you’re single to get wine girl wasted with.. yep, I said it.
Another really fun thing to note is Riedel actually makes wine glasses specifically for Norton wines. Check out some of the of the options here, my favorite style is the Vinum or Vinum XL glass.
Two fabulous vineyards I loved in Virginia with Norton grapes are the Paradise Springs Winery and Bull Run Winery- both not too far from DC. Excuse my poor iPhone photography, apparently I was enjoying the company, scenery & good wine too much to care to document properly.
PARADISE SPRINGS WINERY
This was our first stop, the vineyards to the right of the winery are so pretty and the sunset just exemplified it perfectly. Being born & raised in Florida, I was obsessed with the trees showing the change of seasons with all the red leaves; so the outdoor seating was right up my alley. Walking inside, there is a huge barrel room on display and lots of warm lounge seating with nice vibes. The tasting was a great experience as well, and the employees were very knowledgeable about the wines, grapes & pairings. Overall this was a great winery! If I lived in DC or VA I would definitely frequent this place often and not leave empty handed. One thing I would say is to definitely bring your own food here! There were some food options, but not substantial enough to help you make it through a day of solid tastings. For more information about Paradise Springs Winery click here!
BULL RUN WINERY
This was out last stop, and equally great of an experience. You can hardly tell, but if you look closely at the middle picture there is outside seating with string lights- SO cute! This place would be perfect for a wedding or rehearsal dinner. This winery had great selections, and I especially loved the Viognier (as of 2011 named the signature grape of Virginia). Another one to add to the must try list is their Classic Blueberry dessert wine, it’s unique and so delicious. They also had a really cute selection of merchandise- I could have easily bought everything they had for sale. Another A+ stop for wine in Virginia. For more information about Bull Run Winery click here!