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Virginia’s Wine Grape – Norton


These great grapes are used at Tarara Winery and River and Trail has a boat to get there. Come take a tour and try some wine. Our paddle & wine tour happens all summer and fall. 

A native of Virginia, the Norton grape varietal, also known as the original Virginia Claret, once produced international prize-winning clarets for the Monticello Wine Company of Charlottesville in the late 1800s. Today, some wineries are bringing back their native grape that was nearly extinct. Known for producing deep, dark, burly red wines with splash of pepper and spice, it’s sometimes compared to Zinfandel.

Virginia’s love affair with wine dates back nearly 400 years to 1619 when the Jamestown colony pass a law requiring all male settlers to plant and tend to at least 10 grape vines. The wines produced from these grapes were said to have a “foxy flavor” and the vines struggled in the cold climate. But in 1787, Thomas Jefferson, our third president, visited several of Europe’s leading vineyards in France, Germany and northern Italy. With the thirst of a parched sponge, he absorbed information on winemaking and viticulture – and also brought back with him several cases of European wine to stock the White House Cellar.  


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