Missouri’s most famed grape, the Norton, has a long history as America’s best wine grape. Originally known as Norton’s Virginia Seedling, one of the grape’s earliest champions was Michael Poeschel, founder of Stone Hill Winery and pioneer of American wine. His Norton wine would go on to win international acclaim, being declared the “Best Red Wine of All Nations” at the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair and winning the top prize, which would cement it as an important American wine grape. Lost and forgotten due to Prohibition, it returned when we it was rediscovered by Jim and Betty Held in 1965. In 2003, it was recognized as the official state grape of Missouri.
If Norton is Missouri’s red grape of choice, Vignoles is known as its favored white. The Vignoles grape produces vibrant, tropical wines often described as “sunshine in a bottle!” The origins of Vignoles are a mystery, but it may originate as a complex cross from 1930s France. The grapes can produce exceptional aromatic and fruity dry wines, as well as bright sweet wines, and even nectar-like dessert wines.
Another grape owing its origins to 1930s France, Vidal Blanc, like Vignoles, a complexly crossed French American grape. It is best known as a favorite grape for ice wines made in Northern Europe and Canada. In Missouri’s climate though, as most years are not perfect for Vidal ice wine (though it does happen!), the Vidal Blanc grape is used for crisp dry whites.
Chardonel is a white wine grape that is a direct cross from its parents, the famed Chardonnay and the French American Seyval grape. Developed by Cornell’s agricultural experiment station in New York in the 1950s, it now dominates the Eastern USA as a cold tolerant alternative to Chardonnay. It now is used to create citrusy and buttery Chardonnay style wines.
Chambourcin is a relatively recent addition to Stone Hill Winery, having only been cultivated here since 2005. It was developed in France as a complex hybrid of French and American vines during the 1960s. The grape has found a home in Missouri where it is one of the most grown grapes. It is a very productive grape that produces medium bodied dry red wines. Our Chambourcin is a consistent winner of the Missouri Governor’s Cup for best wine produced in Missouri.
Developed first by Ephraim Wales Bull in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1849, the Concord grape is now the quintessential grape-flavor people know and love. It quickly came to dominate American vineyards as a favorite for sweet wines. With Prohibition, many vineyards were converted to Concord grapes and used for grape juice production. Today, the Concord grape is most often used for grape juice and fruity sweet wines.
Like Norton and Concord, Catawba is a grape native to America. It found acclaim as a grape that created sparkling wines which rivaled the best Champagnes of France. From 1825 to 1850, it was the most grown grape in America. Due to issues surrounding disease, growers at the time started to switch to other varieties that were more tolerant and productive. Though Catawba is a red grape, due to its unique nature it is usually used to create rosé wines that range from dry to sweet with a honeysuckle sweetness and lychee citrus.
The Traminette grape is yet again another complex French American grape, though this was developed much closer to home at the University of Illinois in 1965. As its name suggests, it is a cross of the Gewurztraminer grape along with another French American grape. Traminette is a versatile and aromatic grape which produces floral and spicy wines, most often dry and off-dry.
The Valvin Muscat is the youngest grape grown at Stone Hill Winery. Developed by Cornell University and released in 2006, it quickly was adopted at our winery and now creates delicious Moscato style wines. It is a complex crossing that is derived from European and hybrid Muscat parents. It is a white grape that is sweet, floral, and highly aromatic.