Apr 13th 2011 To be old and foolish
Any little ol’ winemakers out there? I’ve been reading lately about an interesting grape called the “Norton,” or “Cynthiana,” depending mostly on whether you live in Missouri or Arkansas. I’ll leave it to those who want to know the details to follow the links, but briefly the Norton is a North American wine grape that may or may not have been crossed with a European vine about the time of the Revolutionary War. It is hardy to conditions in the eastern United States in ways most European varietals are not, and some think it makes a passable dry red wine. It certainly is not to be confused with that native grape the muscadine. What is interesting to me is that this grape was the backbone of a huge wine industry in the Missouri Ozarks prior to prohibition. However, that adventure destroyed the Ozark wineries, but they’ve come roaring back in the past generation or so. According to one source I read, it was the Norton grape vine that was used to save the French vineyards when French vines were grafted to disease-resistant American root stock at the height of the devastating Phylloxera blight in the mid-19th century. Of course, it was the least we could do, as the aphid that caused the blight Phylloxera accidentally was imported to Europe from North America. C’est la vin.