Norton grapes are distinctly an American original, belonging to the species native to North America, vitis aestivalis, producing a complex, big, dry red wine. Ideally suited to Missouri’s complicated growing climate, the mighty Norton vines can withstand bitter cold winters to blazing hot summers, and just as important, they are very disease resistant. Norton, fittingly was made Missouri’s official state grape, and here at Stone Hill Winery, we think it’s well deserved!
Stone Hill Winery has seven vineyards spanning across 190 acres, with Norton grapes making up just over 28 acres. This translates to about 332 gallons of our flagship Norton wine every year.
Among our vineyards is a very special 1/2 acre of Norton grapevines planted around the time of the Civil War. These vines were lucky enough to survive prohibition’s decimation. The historic vines were alive when Missouri Norton was known as King of American dry red wine & Stone Hill Norton was honored with being the “Best Red Wine of all Nations” at the 1879 Vienna World Exposition. The old vines still, once in a great while, provide enough grapes to make a barrel or two of “OVR”, our Old Vine Reserve Norton.
Norton has continually been the star of Stone Hill Winery. When Dave Johnson arrived to be head winemaker at Stone Hill Winery in 1978, winery owner Jim Held (who resurrected the shuttered winery in 1965 with wife Betty) immediately had Dave work on perfecting Stone Hill Winery Norton wine. By 1988, a library of 10 years of Stone Hill Winery Norton’s allowed for the creation of the 10 year vertical Norton Dinner. For the past 31 years this unique tradition has followed, tasting each of the last 10 vintages of Norton side-by-side in one evening.
Shaun Turnbull, current head winemaker at Stone Hill Winery, enjoys showcasing just how well our Norton matures and ages. “Each glass is a snap shot of how the vine grew and how the climate impacted the wine …what the growing season was like of that particular year.”
The Stone Hill Winery Norton is a five-time champ of the Governor’s Cup – the highest annual award for the best Missouri wine. Norton has gained more attention and respect across the country through the years. Stone Hill Winery Norton is made from 100 percent estate-grown grapes, harvested late in the season, fermented on the skins for 12 months and then aged in American, French and Eastern European oak barrels, resulting in a big, full-bodied wine, dry and complex most often with flavors of blackberry. Just recently top American wine critic, James Suckling, highlighted our estate bottled Cross J Norton!
For more detailed history on NORTON – an American original READ ON!
Missouri’s historic Stone Hill Winery continues the tradition of crafting award winning wines from locally grown grapes as established by its founders in 1847.